And a quite attractively presented website it is too. We, the visiting proletariat, are given a brief biography of Richie Boy and an overview of the divers “Down with this sort of thing” campaigns he heads up. There is the Irish Anti-War Movement, of which our boy is the main spokesman and which is undoubtedly his major claim to fame. There is the People Before Profit Alliance, for which he is the Dún Laoghaire candidate in the upcoming general election. There is the anti-developer campaign Save Our Seafront, which leads me to ponder whether the Kingstown seafront might actually benefit from a little redevelopment.
What you will not find, and eagle-eyed observers of the Irish left will be not at all surprised by this, is an introduction to the Socialist Workers Party. I may be wrong, but I’ve looked over the whole website and can’t say I have seen a single mention of the SWP anywhere. This is despite the fact that Richie Boy has been a member of said organisation for something like 18 years, has spent most of that time on its leading committee as long-suffering sidekick to Swiss Kieran, writes regularly for the Socialist Worker (usually under the rubric of “voices from the movement”, the same device that allows Kevin Wingfield to appear every issue as a spokesman for Ballymun Against Issue of the Week), was a headline speaker at Marxism little more than a week ago and, the last time I spoke to him – which admittedly wasn’t yesterday – was a full-time operative of the SWP.
Before the more excitable Indymedia types start screaming about Cointelpro, I hasten to add that this isn’t some unwarranted exposure. Just about everyone who knows Richard knows he is a high-up member of the SWP. Indeed, he owes his celebrity to the SWP. Richard, you see, is a most pleasant and outgoing chap who makes friends easily. This perfectly complements Swiss Kieran, who is a powerful thinker and impressive speaker, but who is, let’s face it, a little dour and abrasive. This also makes Richard a perfect frontman, a role he has played with aplomb for a good long while now.
The SWP have a somewhat aggravating organisational tic when setting up one of their “united fronts”. The comrades don’t do coalitions; they hold a public meeting and invite people to “join the movement”. They don’t like structures, but on occasion will simulate inclusivity by appointing themselves and two or three non-party figureheads to be a leading committee. Thus it was that, after 9/11, Richard found himself appearing all over the media as spokesman for the fortuitously named “Irish Anti-War Movement”. What the anti-war punters thought about being spoken for by the SWP is an interesting question, but a moot one. Like most of the SWP’s fronts, the IAWM is largely bluff, but a bluff is only a bluff if somebody calls it.