Derry's 2010 Mayday march


In what was described as 'quite a respectable turnout' Mayday in Derry  saw over 100 people take part in the Mayday march called by the Derry Trade Union Council.  Those taking part included the DTUC, GMB, UNISON, 3/3 branch, Communities Against Cuts, Anti-Water Tax, IRSP, WSM and Organise!

Spirit of May Day flourishes in Derry in spite of dinosaurs   

In a development that may well herald the gathering of momentum in the fightback against cuts and job losses in Derry and the north west, around 100 people marched to celebrate May Day, on Saturday May 1st. This was the first such march in the city in 8 years, and with a hundred plus people taking part in a march, and greater numbers at the rallies before and after, it was regarded as a successful event.

The march had been called by the Derry Trades Council, with the support of unions NIPSA, UNITE, Unison, the FBU, the INTO, GMB and the NUJ, and coincided with the conclusion of the Biennial Conference of the NI section of the ICTU in Derry. However the march itself was attended largely by rank-and-file members of the unions, community activists, local campaigns and political groupings such as the IRSP, the SWP, members of Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the SP, Organise!, the Workers Solidarity Movement and others. Prominent at the march was the locally organised grassroots Communities Against Cuts.

A significant force in the preparations for the event  was the SWP co-ordinated People Before Profit (PBP), whose candidate in the forthcoming Westminster elections is veteran Trades Unionist and activist Eamonn McCann. Astonishingly, given his central role in the organising and his ability to deliver an inspiring and eloquent speech, McCann did not speak at the rally afterwards. Instead we heard  some speeches of varying quality by some Trades Union full timers. And inspite of the high spirits of the march itself, the only real inspiration from the platform came from a very upbeat and defiant local Communities Against Cuts activist, Pauline Mellon.

The explanation for Eamonn McCann’s absence from the platform , it emerged, was that he had been ‘disinvited’ from the platform by the Derry Trades Union Council leadership who had come under pressure from Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin had objected to McCann’s presence on the platform on the grounds that as a Westminster candidate, it would give him an unfair advantage over theirs. Sinn Féin, not satisfied with an offer to have their own speaker on the platform, threatened to disrupt the rally if McCann went ahead and spoke, so the DTUC relented and his invitation to speak was withdrawn.

The march itself was a spirited and colourful demonstration of the range of issues, groupings and interests represented, spearheaded by a samba rhythm and guitar musical squad led by Paddy Nash. The music and vocal chants of  “they say cutbacks, we say fightback” and “defend every job, fight every cut” gently rocked a city that otherwise seemed to be slumbering through a jazz festival while in the throws of a recession.w

Created with flickr slideshow.



My article could give the impresion that an invitation  had been issued to Eamonn McCann as People before Profit candidate, and then withdrawn. Eamonn McCann, as one of the Derry Trades Union Council (DTUC) organisers of the march, had been an original nominee of DTUC on the platform. Also asked to speak on behalf of DTUC was a SF member of DTUC, who however declined. It was later that DTUC asked McCann to step down as speaker. Neither speaker would have been there speaking on behalf of their political parties. It was not a case of either Sinn Fein or People Before Profit being invited to nominate speakers to the platform.