Wednesday 21 November 2018

'Ballyhea says no' goes global


Protesters of the Bondholder Bailout marching through Charleville on last Sunday. Credit: Photo: Mike McGrath
Protesters of the Bondholder Bailout marching through Charleville on last Sunday. Credit: Photo: Mike McGrath


PEOPLE may have laughed when a dedicated few protestors took to the street in Ballyhea to register their opposition to the government bailout. 100 weeks later people are no longer laughing.

In fact, the dedication of the people who organised and kept the protest going for almost two years has now been recognised across the world.

This week the protest caught the imaginations of the media across the globe, including The Washington Post and Norway's 'paper of record' Aftenposten. Camera crews from Australia, Korea, Germany and France have also travelled to the rural hamlet to find out just what all the fuss was about.

As the protest reached its 100th consecutive week last Sunday, it was also featured on Qatar based satellite news network Al Jazeera, which boasts a global audience of millions across Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.

The fact that the vast majority of people would struggle to find Ballyhea on the map has done little to dampen the interest in the little village with the big heart that refuses to back down.

More than 300 protestors braved the winter elements last Sunday to mark the 100th anniversary of the march, with the sense of anger at the government's decision to make the taxpayer foot the bill for bank debts as strong as it was at the first protest back in March 2011.

While the weekly march, which takes place after Sunday mass in the local church, may only last for 10 minutes each week, it has become a beacon for people across Ireland, and beyond, who are becoming increasingly frustrated at the seemingly endless austerity being heaped upon them.

As the protestors made their way along the road to nearby Charleville, where a similar protest was taking place, it was clear that the message to the rest of the world was the same as it was at the start - ' Ballyhea Says No'.

Among the protestors were Luke 'Ming' Flanagan TD and what organiser Diarmuid O'Flynn described as a cross section of society, including some who had travelled from counties Meath and Kerry to show their solidarity.

Mr O'Flynn said the protest is gaining support each week.

"I wish it was over and we could all get our lives back. We are doing this because we have to do it," said Diarmuid.

"Irish people are being betrayed when we are the power. Hopefully, people will start to make the link between the austerity and bond payments that are continuing to be made," he added.

Mr O'Flynn who said that Ballyhea had grown from "a little pebble in the shoe of the ECB to become a real nuisance".