Interview with a Derry anarchist on Becoming an Anarchist


When did you first become active or interested in politics?
Politics is something that it’s hard not to have, especially living in Derry. Politics would always come up in conversation no matter where I went or what I was doing. I always voiced my opinions and had most people agree with what I had to say. When it came to doing something about it like becoming involved and actually joining an organisation that was different.

Have you been involved in other political groups?
I could never find where I’d confidently be able to plant my feet and get directly involved. I had taken part in local campaigns or actions on the edges to highlight certain issues around the town for a few years such as Palestine, Anti-Fascist work, Anti-War and never missed a march if I could help it, along with anything else that was going on at that time.

If not, why not?
No. I always had my mates in my ear telling me I was this or that, trying to convince me to join whatever groups they were involved with, but after a while it always came back to the same old thing. It was the way other groups organised.  Whether they were socialist, trotskyist or republican minded they all worked the same, from the top down. Even if they said they did, they actually didn’t. Using terms like “grassroots” or “democratic” was limited as horizontal thinking just isn’t practiced.  The cult of personality is something I don’t want to be engaged in at all, as I have seen how anarchists organise using direct democracy and how working collectively is far more healthier than being led by the nose all the time.

How did you find out about anarchism?
It was when I was reading about the Spanish Revolution and the international brigades which included people from my own city who went and fought fascism along side other revolutionaries at that time I found an interest and connection with Anarchism.

What about anarchist history locally?
The more I read, the more I could relate to it so I started looking into Anarchism in Irelands recent history, to see where it all tied in. I found books written by Jack White and Belfast born John McGuffin. White being one of the founding members of the Irish Citizens Army and of course McGuffin who was one of the founding activists of the civil rights campaign. McGuffin’s work in highlighting torture and imprisonment by the state over the years is something I admire. The more that I read and heard about him and others, the different anarchist groups at that time was equally inspiring.  Particularly their role in the civil rights movement, highlighting injustices and the growth of anarchist politics at that time, I wanted to find out about how they organised. Anarchism in Ireland has only really taken root from the late 60’s onwards but there have been times in the past when people have been inspired by anarchism.

When did you decide to take the next step and become active in anarchist politics?
Hearing about the WSM (Workers Solidarity Movement) and their direct approach to issues throughout the 90’s to present day pushed me to get involved if I was to start anywhere there was no better place for me. I’ve been a full member now for well over a year and have taken part in demos and activism across Ireland. It’s helped develop my outlook and opinions for the better along with the friends and comrades I’ve made throughout it all its been a great experience.

What would you say to others interested in finding out more about anarchism and who are interested in getting involved?
To anyone who’s thinking of getting involved but doesn’t know how to or where to begin or they are hesitant about contacting us, I would say just do it, you might actually find what you where looking for all a long.

From Issue 1 of the Derry Anarchist bulletin Barricade