Occupy camp won't move for St Patrick's Festival, protesters say
THE so-called 'Occupy Dame Street' protesters told gardai yesterday that they will not be moving from the Central Bank Plaza to facilitate the St Patrick's Day parade.
In a letter delivered to the Dame Street camp last week, Garda Supt Joseph Gannon asked for "assistance and co-operation in removing" the camp and set yesterday, March 3, as a deadline for an answer.
He was told yesterday that the organisers of the unofficial camp would not be moving.
The refusal came as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar joined in a call for the camp to be moved so that it does not become a focal point for international media coming to Dublin for St Patrick's Day.
"With our tourism industry showing some signs of recovery, this will be the most important St Patrick's Festival for many years," Mr Varadkar told the Sunday Independent.
"That's why I am asking the Occupy Dame Street camp to relocate for the weekend in order to facilitate the St Patrick's Day celebrations. Obviously the Occupy movement feels very strongly about its politics, but I don't believe the camp is opposed to the St Patrick's Day festival.
"I really hope they will agree to move the camp for a few days in order to facilitate the parade and festival events. Camps in some other cities have agreed to move, and the one in Dublin is now the longest continuous camp in the same place."
The camp has been there since last October and was set
up in in solidarity with 'Occupy' protests abroad -- most of which have now been dispersed by the authorities.
Alan Cooke who owns a business on Fownes street, John J Cooke & Co Ltd, which has been located there since 1952, would "absolutely" welcome gardai clearing protesters off the site.
"It's a total eyesore as far as the main tourist area of Dublin is concerned. I'd like to see them gone and I hope that they don't come back after St Patrick's Day," he told the Sunday Independent.
"Whatever about the gardai coming in and removing them from a security point of view, they are in breach of nearly every planning law out there, hygiene, health and safety, fire regulation, everything.
"They're in breach of everything and yet the council are doing nothing. "
"I don't know what the gardai have in mind," he added, "but it is ironic that you have the Dublin tourist office up in Andrew's street and they send hundreds and thousands of people to Temple Bar. It's a planning enforcement issue. There are illegal structures there."
The wooden pallets and main structures were put up by the protest group, instead of tents, in December and January as a result of bad weather.
The camp, which has been expanded in recent days, now takes up most of the Central Bank plaza in Dublin's main tourist area.
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council told the Sunday Independent that as the Occupy Dame Street camp is "not on a public space, it's really up to the Central Bank to move them on. Dublin City Council can't do anything about it."
However, Dublin City Council has come to an arrangement with protesters to remove refuse from the camp if it was bagged up and left out.
When queried on whether or not the Central Bank was charged for these refuse collections, a Dublin City Council spokesperson told the Sunday Independent that while they had 'facilitated protesters by taking away refuse that they had bagged up and left out,' they did not go on to the Central Bank's private property, where the camp is located, to remove it and this was only done to prevent refuse from building up in the area.