A vacant Bank of Ireland building has become an unexpected symbol of resistance. This week, an Irish chapter of the global Occupy movement took control of the building in Belfast city centre.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, a number of youths broke into the former headquarters of the Bank of Ireland on Royal Avenue. Police followed shortly. By Monday afternoon, up to a dozen protesters occupied the top floor of the building, which had been abandoned for years, and draped protest banners over the buildings exterior.
Bank of Ireland is one of several Irish banks that were rescued from financial collapse by billions of euros from the Republic's taxpayers.
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A statement from the Occupy demonstrators, quoted in the Guardian, said: 'Occupy Belfast have taken control of the Bank of Ireland on Royal Avenue in opposition to soaring homelessness, lack of affordable social housing and home repossessions.'
'Banks take our houses so we take their buildings,' the protestors added. 'This is a repossession for the community!'
Meanwhile, a branch of Occupy in the Republic has vowed that they intend to move into empty properties owned by NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) the state agency set up to take over the toxic assets of former property speculators.