Protest group disbands after five years but vows the fight has just begun
Published 07/03/2016 | 02:30
After five years, supporters of 'Ballyhea Says No' have staged their final demonstration.
But the north Cork group of local activists and social justice campaigners are not about to turn into "yes men or women", vowed group leader and sports journalist Diarmuid O'Flynn.
About 150 members quietly ended their final protest in the rain, before assembling for a quick goodbye in a local car park yesterday.
Some of the 'hard-core' protesters met for a coffee and to quietly plan their next move, even though the group has officially disbanded.
But there were no tear-filled speeches or long goodbyes, Mr O'Flynn said.
"It's just our way, we're not a noisy bunch," he told the Irish Independent.
But members will continue to lobby against austerity and the banks' bailout and use the experience, contacts and media savvy they have amassed over the past five years to continue fighting for social justice, he said.
"The campaign has really got traction at this stage," he said, noting that the group recently changed its name to 'Ballyhea Says Know' to reflect the insights and knowledge it has gained over the past few years.
The group inspired many other local citizen action groups to form and hold weekly protests against water charges and other austerity measures.
It also made headlines abroad after members took their concerns about the hardships being endured by ordinary citizens to Europe and America.
But after meeting and protesting in the north Cork town every Sunday since March 6, 2011 - aside from one year when Christmas fell on a Sunday - the members decided to call it a day.
"It was a huge strain," Mr O'Flynn said.
But he believes that they have accomplished what they set out to do, "to educate people on what's been happening and is still happening", Mr O'Flynn said.
He added: "The General Election was a real rejection of the outgoing Government."