Sunday 22 April 2018

Bank put on lockdown and Brown Thomas invaded as protesters occupy buildings

Anti-austerity protests forced gardaí to place a ring of steel around the St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre after some activists occupied prominent shops including Brown Thomas. Photo: Stephen Collins
Anti-austerity protests forced gardaí to place a ring of steel around the St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre after some activists occupied prominent shops including Brown Thomas. Photo: Stephen Collins

Mark O'Regan and Emma Jane Hade

GARDAI were forced to lockdown a city centre bank yesterday evening as dozens of anti-austerity protesters staged a sit-in.

Gardai shut down the Bank of Ireland branch on College Green when a group of over 20 anti-Irish Water protestors entered the building.

The group then proceeded to Grafton Street, where they briefly occupied Brown Thomas and marched towards St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, causing disruption to Christmas shoppers.

Chanting

Dozens of gardai from a number of Dublin stations – including at least five from the Mounted Support Unit – responded to the incident.

The original event began with a crowd of over 150

anti-austerity and anti-water charge protesters which had departed from Parnell Square at 2pm and made their way along O’Connell Street before moving up towards the College Green area.

A group of around 100 people then broke away and began protesting outside the Bank of Ireland branch.

They began chanting various slogans, including “shame on you”, as gardai attempted to remove some marchers who had staged a sit-down protest.

Gardai then pursued a small group of around 25 individuals who decided to enter the bank.

A van full of gardai from the public order unit arrived at the scene and they entered the bank. Two more vans full of gardai arrived and the officers entered later. Some 40 activists remained in the courtyard outside the building as the gardai had blocked the main entrance.

Over 50 officers remained outside the building and it was then closed to customers.

The marchers waiting outside insisted they were making a stand against austerity and the complicity of financial institutions in removing people from their homes. Gardai began to move the protestors from the bank’s grounds.

Alan Lawes, from Navan, said the decision to enter the bank had been “a spur of the moment thing” and hadn’t been pre-planned.

He said he was protesting about social issues like “homelessness, the rent crisis and living conditions.”

Over the course of 30 minutes, a number of protestors decided to leave the building after gardai issued a warning.

A short time later the remaining members of the group left the bank, and were met with cheers from their supporters outside.

More chants of “banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” rang out during the ejection.

The activists stayed in the courtyard for approximately 10 minutes before they set off in the direction of Grafton Street.

The group made their way down Dublin’s main shopping thoroughfare, before a handful of protestors entered luxury department store Brown Thomas, and a neighbouring AIB Bank.

A spokesperson for Brown Thomas confirmed to the Herald that approximately 12 protestors entered the store yesterday evening.

But it is understood that there was no disruption to business caused. The episode lasted between two to three minutes, and it is understood that gardai were “on the case very quickly” and had them removed from the store.

Irish Independent

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