Protesters have turned down an appeal from Ireland’s Tourism Minister to abandon the Occupy Dame Street camp ahead of the St Patrick’s Day festivities in Dublin.
They have also refused an appeal from parade grand marshal soccer legend John Giles to move on
The group have told Minister Leo Varadkar and police chiefs that they will not be moving from the site of Ireland’s Central Bank.
Varadkar and police chief Superintendent Joseph Gannon had both asked the protest group to vacate their camp ahead of the traditional St Patrick’s Day parade through the Irish capital.
Tourism boss Varadkar fears the site will become a focus for international media attention on the national holiday and is worried adverse publicity could damage the hospitality industry’s recovery.
“With our tourism industry showing some signs of recovery, this will be the most important St Patrick’s Festival for many years,” Minister Varadkar told the Sunday Independent.
“That’s why I am asking the Occupy Dame Street camp to relocate for the weekend in order to facilitate the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“Obviously the Occupy movement feels very strongly about its politics, but I don’t believe the camp is opposed to the St Patrick’s Day festival.
“I really hope they will agree to move the camp for a few days in order to facilitate the parade and festival events. Camps in some other cities have agreed to move, and the one in Dublin is now the longest continuous camp in the same place.”
Protestors have confirmed however that they will ignore Varadkar’s plea just as they turned down the request to move on from Superintendent Gannon.
But one local businessman has told the paper that police should use force if necessary to dismantle the unofficial camp.
Shop owner Alan Cooke said: “I would absolutely welcome gardai (police) clearing protesters off the site.
“It’s a total eyesore as far as the main tourist area of Dublin is concerned. I’d like to see them gone and I hope that they don’t come back after St Patrick’s Day.
“Whatever about the gardai (police) coming in and removing them from a security point of view, they are in breach of nearly every planning law out there, hygiene, health and safety, fire regulation, everything.
“They’re in breach of everything and yet the council are doing nothing. I don’t know what the gardai (police) have in mind but it is ironic that you have the Dublin tourist office up in Andrew’s street and they send hundreds and thousands of people to Temple Bar.”
Irish soccer legend and 2012 Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal John Giles has also asked Occupy Dame Street protesters to suspend their protest for Ireland’s nation holiday.
“I think it would be worthwhile for them [the protesters] to postpone the protest for the sake of the parade and for the image it portrays to the rest of the world,” he said, according to the Irish Times.
The Occupy Dame Street protesters have erected a protest camp not unlike the one that was built in Zuccotti Park in New York when the Occupy Wall Street protesters were encamped in the Financial District.
The Dublin protesters set up their residence October 8 in the Temple Bar area, and they now live in wooden structures cover with plastic sheeting.
Local gardai (police) have sent the protesters a letter asking that them to cooperate in removing the camp for public safety reasons.
Close to half a million people are expecting to visit for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and it is regarded as one of the biggest events for the city each year. It is also huge opportunity for the capital to sell itself as a tourist destination.
While some local retailers recognize what the protesters stand for, they also know that their presence is causing a drop in business.
“The camp is right in the way of the public’s path towards this area. I would have some sympathy with their aims,” said one storeowner in the area, according to the Irish Times.
“But it’s gone beyond that now. They’ve made their point and should give the plaza back to the public.”