The Second Belfast Anarchist Bookfair was held on Saturday 6th of September at the Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre. Overall the event was a great success, for Organise! and all those who helped out - providing stalls, giving talks, contributing to discussion (both at meetings and informally), sorting food and making the event great craic.
There were stalls there from Back to Front magazine, Choice Ireland, Glasgow Anarchists, Just Books, Revolutionary Anarcha-Feminist Group, Solidarity Federation, Workers Solidarity Movement, an anarchist fiction author Roslyn Fuller was also selling her recently published book 'Isak'.
The first talk Immigrant Workers and Racism proved to be a bit too early for some and was attended by only half a dozen people. Nevertheless Francois from Organise! and Davy from the WSM made some interesting points and the discussion afterwards was productive. The next talk Currents in Working Class Self Organisation: Anarcho-Syndicalism provided a wealth of information on the history of, and different currents, within Anarcho-Syndicalism. This prompted discussion on strategies to build Anarcho-Syndicalist organisations and there was particular interest in the lesser known history and current activity of the FORA, the IWA/AIT affiliate in Argentina.
Despite technical difficulties with the sound the Prison Isn't Working video showing and discussion managed to show some of the films made with the Educational Shakespeare Company and prisoners and former prisoners. There was interest in the work of the ESC and in the stories of former prisoners themselves and we will be having another go at this one as a separate public meeting and film showing in the near future.
The Education Workers Branch of Organise! then hosted a discussion on the numerous issues affecting workers in the education industry and in relation to education generally. Organise! aim at building a broader solidarity network amongst those who work in the education industry and it became clear that there is certainly no lack of struggles and attacks throughout the industry.
Fighting Unions? saw Jason from Organise! and Alan from the WSM outline their respective organisations positions on the Trades Unions. There was also an update from the floor from Socialist Party speaker on the case of Gordon MacNeill, a sacked airport worker who UNITE have been trying to gag following their appalling handling of a dispute that goes back over seven years. At this stage Gordon and the other sacked airport workers have only been consistently supported by the Socialist Party, Organise! and more recently the new WSM Belfast Branch. The debate was mainly focused on differences between the SP and anarchist strategies in relation to the Trades Unions although it was apparent that there was some significant differences between Organise! and the WSM on this issue. A contributor from the floor suggested that we should return to the practice of the IWW of singing our protest, stating that he had been coming to meetings and events like this over the years and never once heard Solidarity Forever. This was taken on-board as a suggestion for next years bookfair.
To round off the days events a raffle was drew and people kept the discussions and craic going in the John Hewitt and the Duke of York. Again Organise! would like to thank everyone who made the event a success particularly the Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre for letting us use the venue and, surprisingly (well we were surprised) the Communist Party of Ireland for advertising the event in their paper. We hope to provide fuller reports of at least some of the meetings over the next few days.