Central Bank's Occupy policy enrages local business owners


Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan angered business owners after saying last week that while he didn't welcome the Dame Street protesters, he had no plans to take action against them.

Now, local traders are accusing the bank of "side-stepping" the damage being done to them, reports the Irish Independent.

"A new development on Dame Street has been the arrival of the Occupy Movement," said Honohan.

"While not everyone is happy with their being there, several people have said to me that their presence symbolises, albeit in a rather ambiguous and even incoherent way, the feelings of a large part of society in regard to what has gone wrong in the financial sector and with the banks.

"We don't welcome their presence, but -- as long as no one is harmed or put in danger by them -- we are not at present inclined to take action to have them moved away."

The traders are enraged, saying that jobs are on the line.

"What's really irritating is the stand that the bank is taking on it, and the powers that be. It seems that they're all side-stepping it," said local business owner John Murphy.

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 "If I put a piece of cardboard outside that door I'd get a fine, yet in the capital city in the centre, in the main tourist area, that is permitted to take place. It doesn't make sense," he added.

"At the minute I think it's a protest of ego, as opposed to a protest of conscience. There's very few of them actually staying there. This is our capital city and the fact that they've set up a shanty town right across there really irritates me. Obviously there's the collateral damage that it's causing to the business as well. Then when the weather gets milder, what is it going to attract then?"

Frank McQuade, who owns two shops directly facing the camp, said: "They came at Halloween and for the first week or two it didn't really affect anything, but then it just got bigger and bigger and really messy, and attracted loads of loopers and headbangers."

"I would think that when the weather gets better, it will get more difficult. We asked them for weeks and weeks and explained to them about being small businesses and needing the footfall of customers coming across there. They kept fobbing us off for weeks, right over Christmas and then in January we had meetings every week with them and they'd say 'oh we'll go back to our assembly'. There are no leaders or bosses, so it's very handy, they don't have to do anything then."

McQuade said that he has no issue with the protest in theory, but in practice the protest is a very different story, adding that he has witnessed some of the protesters openly urinating in the street.

"Jesus I hate the banks more than they do!" he said. "But there's at least 50 jobs on the line because of them, if not more. I'm 25 years here in April and this is the worst year even including the eighties."

Paddy Conlon, manager of Candy Lab, a few doors down, said that people avoided walking near his shop because of the camp.

"It's a major concern to us. It's very untidy," he said. "The main house they have at the front of the bank is fine and I think they should just focus on that.

"It's well known that some nights there is absolutely nobody camping there."

"It couldn't be done by me and you," Conlon added, "to erect anything you need planning permission."


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