The Blanket

From Belfast to Genoa - Now Florence

Davy Carlin • 18/10/2002

I have many memories of the demonstrations in Genoa, of the sheer brutality of the state, of the tanks and armoured vehicles moving in and attacking peaceful people. I remember the tens of thousands of police and troops deployed, battering peaceful protesters, including church groups to a pulp. Also of those swimming for their lives and being hammered under the water by those in the gunboats and I remember also of the still disappeared. I remember the first day a peaceful colourful demonstration in support of asylum rights and the machine gun posts, accompanied by tank and helicopter machine guns trained on the protest as the war ships looked on, so setting out their stall for the next few days.

My most vivid memories though were of the hundreds of thousands marching in a sea of red flags, of the oneness and collectiveness of trade unionists, of human rights, race and anti-poverty groups. Seeing working class people from all over Europe, of the tens of thousands of Italian people who made their way to Genoa after the state had brutally murdered a young protester. Seeing the people wave from their balconies or hosing us with water due to the heat. Looking up at the banners that hung from their homes stating 'welcome workers of the world' or the chanting as we marched, although in many different languages, it was as one.

I remember us trying to reach Genoa with both Italy's borders and the internal transport systems virtually shut down. So we had to travel from village to village and we always found help and methods of transport to take us ever nearer Genoa. I remember when we 'boarded' a train for the last leg of our journey after being through isolated villages, over mountains and though forests. All of us were from Belfast, sitting in 'our' train, and I remember people looking at each other with a sense of pride that despite all that was put against us like many others we had made it to Genoa.

Sometimes also it is what people say that sticks in your mind. I remember Barbara, a political and trade union organiser losing her clothes she had been carrying and all her money. Although upset I remember her stating through her anger, that she hoped that 'at least it fell into the hands of those that needed it most'. I remember also before the Friday protest when we were asking for volunteers to go 'Front line', that Rita, a community worker from West Belfast, said ' try and stop me'. I remember then just after the SWP contingent had been water cannoned, gassed, baton charged, then again attacked by police and right wing paramilitaries on the Friday protest, Andrew a Belfast civil servant making a comparison with 'Ruck' tactics used in the North.

All those who paricipated will all take away their own memories and understandings. Yet what is clear though is that Genoa brought together people from all over Europe and further afield who believed in a better world. Now many of those people shall meet again in Florence to discuss many such issues in relation to putting people before profit and also the way forward in attempting to bring about change. The European Social Forum (ESF) was called after the world social forum which had 70,000 people in attendance. This one should be bigger with the first collective European march against the oncoming war in Iraq. Although apart fom the march and the fact that this event will be mainly meetings and forums, there are now, however, suggestions that just like Genoa the Schengen agreement of free movement may be lifted to attempt to prevent many attending the forum.

The ruling classes will use many different methods to continually attempt to prevent such meetings and demonstrations. That is why it is even more vital for all those who believe that people and planet should come before profit and war should be there. If you wish to go from Belfast contact the Irish web site:







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It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies.
- Arthur Calwell
Index: Current Articles

20 October 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Dancing on the Graves of Ten Men Dead
Anthony McIntyre


The Wily Ways of a Boy From Ballymurphy

Barry White


SF's Ruse Coloured Glasses
Brian Mór


Historic Shirts of the World
Brian Mór


Liam O Ruairc


From Belfast To Genoa - Now Florence
Davy Carlin


An Open Letter to the Democratic National Committee
Jeanie Bauer


The Letters Page has been updated.


17 October 2002


Statement from Republican Prisoners, Maghaberry


Running on Empty
Anthony McIntyre


The Political Treachery at the Heart of the IRA

Toby Harnden


Adams' Ashes
Brian Mór


The Boys of the New Brigade
Brian Mór


The Original 1930's Classic Blue Shirt
Brian Mór


Cherishing the Children of the Nation Equally
Liam O Ruairc


Republicanism and the Crisis Within the Peace Process
Davy Carlin




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