|Photo: Sheila Naggin / Irish Times|
Cork's contribution to the Occupy movement has moved camp, prompting Fine Gael councillor Des Cahill to label them as attention seekers.
The motley group of what by now must be veteran, if not professional, protesters, has relocated to just a few hundred meters away on Oliver Plunkett St.
The camp has staged a months-long protest against a wide variety of themes, most recurring among which seem to be the bondholder bailout, ongoing austerity and consequent misery of the masses, and have even supplied a husband to one 'Gaelic Girl' from this website (congratulations to Alisa on her whirlwind romance, I hope it goes well).
Their new surroundings will be more commodious (it's indoors after all), but will also afford them the chance to take their evangelizing to the next level: sources on the street report that the protesters intend to take a more proactive role in their 'occupation', including handing out flyers and holding informal advice sessions for similarly disaffected citizens, while RTÉ reports that they movement plans to offer financial and legal advice from their new HQ.
The protesters' move hasn't struck a fond note with everyone, however, with one local politician calling them attention seekers.
“This is purely attention seeking. It’s a child throwing his toys out of the pram. I believe these protestors realised that the camp on the South Mall was achieving very little so they have now decided to step up their campaign by taking this action," Des Cahill (Fine Gael) told the Irish Examiner.
“What will they do next? What is to stop these protestors taking over the Elysian Tower to try to reduce the housing waiting list? Will they take over AIB to hand out free money?”
“This is Robin Hood stuff and it’s completely unacceptable.”
General mood from the populace seemed to be more or less the same: a thread on the popular Peoples Republic of Cork forums included commenters calling the movement' protesting for the sake of protesting'.
A spokesperson for the movement however labelled Cahill's comments 'daft'.
The building is currently vacant, which prompted the camp to move there, but police said that they expect the property's owner to take out a court order against their presence their in the near future.
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A representative of the building's owner has reportedly visited the protesters informing them that they have no right to be there.
The protesters for their part are claiming a (very dubious) legal 'right' to be there, and demanding that they view the rightful proprietor's documentation.
NAMA, the national asset management agency at the center of the post-boom disaster, has denied ownership, but the identity of the rightful owner remains, as of yet, unknown.
Personally, the latest development in the Occupy Cork saga has exhausted whatever last dram of sympathy I had for their 'occupation'.
Besides the fact that they turned the environs of one of the nicest pubs in Cork into a glorified shantytown of makeshift tents and 'general assembly' meetings, their protest ultimately achieved nothing, and curried little sympathy with the average man-on-the-street in Cork.
The protest, like the rest of the Occupy movement, campaigns against a massive panoply of social ills, but comes across as more of a general groan at the state of our now rather dilapidated society rather than a focused and unified attack on one specific issue, of which, needless to say, there are many.
More than that, though, what's done is done: the banks have been bailed out; white-collar criminal legislation fixing legal responsibility to those guilty of corporate crimes has largely not been forthcoming, and the bondholders were never 'burned' as many would have hoped.
Austerity may well last for the frighteningly long period of ten years, but sitting in a building isn't going to help anything.
Most of all, though, by moving into somebody's property -- before the inevitable serving of a court order to evict them -- the Movement has turned itself into a band of criminals, albeit petty ones.
Their explanation for how they took possession of they key (quote from an article in the Examiner):"Santa left it to us, I wouldn’t argue with Santa... On Christmas morning, a box was found under the tree on Grand Parade with a key to the building, along with instructions that this building is a gift to the people of Cork".
In the interest of fairness it should be pointed out that, at least according to a source with the camp, that most of the initial protesters were not involved in the takeover of the building, but those who were involved have done no favours for the protest as a whole.
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