[www-features] Feature proposal: Rembering Siobhan

Shayne O'Neill shayne at perthimc.asn.au
Thu Nov 3 08:10:52 PST 2005

Im waiting for a photo, but I'd like to propose this story for global. 
Siobhan was a major perth activst that everyone loved in perth. Almost the 
entire perth anarcho scene turned up wearing red out of respect for her. I 
want to hold off until I have a photo, then I'll edit it to feature size, 
but heres the main text.

We'll miss her.


Remembering Comrade Siobhan.
Last week, perth lost a cornerstone activist. Siohban was the real thing. 
An activist that put aside pride and sectarianism for the end goal;- A 
free and socialist world for the meekest and weakest of us all. Siohban 
was strong so that we didn't have to be. But that was not her point. The 
point of Siobhan is that it is only united that we'll never be divided. 
That's the message to take home from her legacy. Unity. Here is Wade's, a 
comrade and friend of Siohban's, tribute to her.

From the newswire...........
On Tuesday 25 October 2005 the Left lost a dedicated fighter ­ Siobhan 
- who died from complications from a brain tumour.

Siobhan was from Townsville in Queensland (Australia¹s ³Red North²), and 
moved to Perth in 1995 with her then husband Ken. They later separated 
and, in 1998, Siobhan became involved with her partner Peter.Siobhan was 
enraged by racism and was a solid source of knowledge of the plight of 
Northern Irish Catholics. She joined the ISO in mid-1995 after the massive 
(10 thousand­strong) Palm Sunday rally that occurred whilst the Right-wing 
French government was conducting nuclear testing in the South Pacific. At 
that time Siobhan was involved in Amnesty International.
The French government did its dirty deeds and, when the campaign subsided, 
the Left took up the next fight ­ this time the rising student militancy. 
Siobhan at this time worked for an information technology company in West 
Siobhan led the ISO as a branch committee member for virtually the entire 
period of her membership (til mid-2003). She also attended many ISO 
national conferences often writing contributions for the pre-conference 
discussion bulletins.
Seeking to list the campaigns that benefited from Siobhan¹s politics one 
can¹t but be impressed with the big contributions she made in all the 
strands of struggle against the system.
When the Howard government took power in 1996 (replacing the market 
worshipping Labor Keating government) Siobhan threw herself into the 
struggle against the Conservatives ­ fully aware that Howard¹s victory was 
not an embracement by workers of the Liberal¹s economic agenda but rather 
a rejection of the economic rationalism of the Hawke/Keating years.
Siobhan marched with WA unions in 1997 against the then Court government¹s 
so-called ³Third Wave² of anti-union legislation including marching on the 
magnificent 30 thousand-strong day of defiance.
Siobhan rallied with the Serbian community against NATO¹s bombing of 
Serbia in 1999. She fought for East Timor¹s independence in 1999 ­ and 
unlike most> of Australia¹s Left -opposed Howard¹s cynical decision to 
deploy Australian troops to East Timor (a manoeuvre designed to ensure no 
real independence for the East Timorese). Siobhan led the WA ISO¹s 
involvement in the (successful) campaign to stop uranium mining at 
After the Battle of Seattle in November 1999 Siobhan played a big role in 
ensuring that the ISO related to the new anti-capitalist movement. Siobhan 
was one of the organisers of WA¹s first anti-capitalist actions ­ a rovin> 
picket of Perth¹s McDonald¹s stores. Siobhan joined the blockade of 
Perth¹s stock exchange on May 1st 2001.
Siobhan was a founding member of Perth¹s refugee activist group the 
Refugee Rights Action Network) and protested for refugees at Port Hedland 
detention centre. She also bravely faced the police charges at Baxter 
detention centre in South Australia¹s desert.
Siobhan¹s science background was reflected in her ongoing interest in 
Marxist theory on topics such as evolution and chaos theory ­ staying up 
the> debates through her reading of the books and articles on these 
issues. For a time Siobhan studied Cantonese and undertook further studies 
at UWA (and still ensured she was a part of campus activism).
Over her many years of socialist activism Siobhan developed a good sense 
of tactics for the picketing, protesting and campaigning that are 
constantly thrown up by the movement. But her focussed militancy belied 
her cheeky humour (her hotmail email address for 7 years was 
³leftie_scum²) and the generosity she showed towards others.
Siobhan was a strong guiding hand against sexism wherever it appeared and 
Siobhan¹s hatred of racism expressed itself in her leading involvement in 
the anti-Hanson campaign of 1996-1997 through the group Action Against 
In late 2000 Pauline Hanson faced her nemesis (in the form of Siobhan) at 
close quarters. At a hastily called anti-Hanson protest at an oval in 
Warwick in Perth¹s Northern suburbs about 90 Hansonites outnumbered the 20 
or so anti-Hanson protesters. When the regal racist Hanson arrived 
fashionably late Siobhan ­ her target marked - slipped past the police who 
were holding the protestor¹s back. Siobhan then heckled Hanson at close 
range (much to the anger of the Hanson lovers nearby) until Siobhan was 
arrested by the seemingly embarrassed police.
I¹ll never forget the news footage that night ­ Hanson¹s smiling face 
taking up all of screen until ­ a few seconds later ­ Siobhan¹s head 
suddenly appears and approaches within centimetres of Hanson¹s right ear 
with Siobhan clearly stating ³You¹re a racist Hanson and you¹re not 
welcome here.² Steven Spielberg couldn¹t have directed better coverage. 
The police released Siobhan without charge though I dare say she would 
have worn any charge like a badge.
Like any serious Marxist Siobhan always grappled with the issue of how 
organised socialists can move beyond their usual marginalisation to the 
wider worker¹s movement to become big players in Australian politics. To 
this end Siobhan was a founding member of the Socialist Alliance. Siobhan 
left the ISO in mid-2003 not convinced of the centrality of the Iraq War ­ 
nevertheless Siobhan attended anti-war events whilst continuing to 
campaign against Howard¹s racist refugee policy through her committed 
involvement in RRAN.
Siobhan leaves her partner of 8 years Peter and his daughter Amy. 
Siobhan¹s family includes her parents, brothers and sister Rosie.
Wade McDonald Perth ISO

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