ReOccupy Galway

Thursday 16th May 2013

Eyre Square, Galway, Ireland

On the 16th of May last year Gardaí and workers from Galway city council launched an early morning raid on the Occupy Galway camp in Eyre Square. As dawn broke on the 215th day of the protest, the city was put under martial law and all streets into Eyre Square into Eyre Square were blocked off. The 9 people present at the time of the raid could offer little resistance to the overwhelming force of the Garda public order unit. After the occupiers were removed from the camp the Gardaí and workers began to destroy the structures and remove the tents. They showed little or no regard for personal belongings, books, clothes, computer equipment and other items were indiscriminately dumped along with tents, tarps, banners and bedding. The Gardaí had said previously that we were breaking no law and that Eyre Square had in fact been safer while the camp was there. In the end the Gardaí, the supposed guardians of the peace, caved to political pressure and launched the raid. They ignored the fact that we were a peaceful assembly of citizens and were entitled under the constitution to protest. Instead of protecting human rights like they were supposed to do, they instead treated us like criminals. Two occupiers were arrested on the morning of the raid, one for refusing to leave his tent and another for trying to get through the Garda line around the square. Three more were arrested in the days following the raid for writing with chalk on Eyre Square.

The camp was intended to be a space for political discussion and expression. What form that expression took was not up to the Gardaí or the Council to decide. We maintained it because there was no other such space in Galway. The people who participated in the camp were not a unified collective of people who agreed on everything. We all came for different reasons and had different skills and interests but we worked together for 7 months to keep something going that was bigger than all of us. There were of course many disagreements between people. That was to be expected. Many of us had never done anything like that before and maybe one mistake was trying to agree too quickly on the end goal. What united us was the basic idea that we all as human beings should be free to make our own decisions and choices about our lives. Whether we can stay and live in our own country should not be determined by the profit margins of a few billionaires, neither should our water, food, health, education or any other public service be seen as a commodity that can be traded or sold.

The media’s portrayal of activists and protest in Ireland is nothing short of a disgrace. The numbers on marches and at demonstrations is almost always revised downward. They label activists as hippies or militant troublemakers with nothing better to do than complain. They dismiss tens of thousands of people on the streets as something that deserves only a brief mention on the 9 o’clock news between a success story of an Irish businessman in America and more government lies about the road to recovery.

Everyone knows that things haven’t improved since the raid on Eyre Square. Banks have been given the go ahead to increase evictions, family homes are being taxed, our water supply is set for privatization, our forests are under threat of being sold and hospitals the length and breath of the country are closing. The Gardaí are being withdrawn from the countryside and are facing crippling cuts to their wages. The ones who raided the camp are now protesting themselves. Teachers, nurses, firefighters, the people we all depend on are being targeted for more cuts. College fees are going up and the grant is being cut. Our young people are emigrating in droves, many families have to choose whether to pay the ESB bill or buy food and as a result 1 in 4 children go to school hungry. Old people are abandoned in their homes and sit in fear of being burgled. The number of suicides is rising and there are rumblings in the unions about strike action. We have been signed up to 40 years of debt slavery by this government so not only this generation but those innocents to come will have to pay for the corruption and greed of the rich.

The situation cannot be allowed to continue the way it is. We are witnessing first hand the destruction of Irish society. Every single person in this country is effected one way or the other. We have been abandoned by those in power and, to add insult to injury, we are being made to think that it was our own fault. We are not responsible for this. We have lost our jobs, our homes, our futures and our self esteem. We have been made to feel powerless, weak and afraid. Those in power want us to feel helpless so they can control us easier.
Ireland is not a poor country, we have some of the most fertile land in the world, we produced enough food last year to feed 30 million people, we have 25% of Europe’s sea is Irish territory yet only have 4% of the fishing quotas, we have an estimated €1.6 Trillion of untapped oil and gas reserves off the west coast, we have hundreds of billions worth of renewable resources. The ownership of all this potential wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small minority to the detriment of the state and Irish people as a whole. We don’t even have the option of using these resources to build the economy because under the IMF agreement we have been forced to privatize many of them.

To mark the anniversary of the unconstitutional dismantling and destruction of our camp in Eyre Square, Occupy Galway will be holding an event.

Re-Occupy Eyre Square will be a day of music, workshops, food and informative talks, revisiting the reasons for the setting up of the camp and asking, “Has anything gotten any better?” “What can we do to affect constructive change?”

The event will take place on Thursday the 16th of May from 12:00 midday.

All are welcome.

IT’S STILL NOT OUR DEBT

This Saturday, February 9th, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) are calling for people to join in a day of protest under the banner of “€64 Billion Bank Debt – Lift The Burden, Jobs Not Debt”
The European Central Bank (ECB) and certain EU Member States that have opposed a resolution of the bank debt crisis for Ireland are ICTU’s target for the protest.
Organisers hope that up to 100,000 people will attend demonstrations in cities across the country in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Limerick and Waterford. The demonstrations are timed to coincide with the EU Council of Ministers’ meeting and are set against the backdrop of Ireland’s Presidence of the EU and the looming deadline at the end of March for a Promissory Note deal.
In Galway the protest will take place at 1:30pm with a march from the courthouse to the Spanish Arch.
Recently Eurostat, the EU Commission’s data agency, has calculated the cost of the banking crisis which show that Ireland has paid more for the “Eurozone” bank crisis than any other EU state – costing every person in Ireland almost €9000 while the EU average is €191 per person.
€64 Billion Bank Debt :
There are two parts of the overall public bill – to date – for bailing out private banks:

• The first is the cost of bailing out AIB, EBS, Bank of Ireland, Anglo‐Irish and ILP through direct cash injections estimated at €32.5 billion.
• Secondly an estimated €31.6 billion – the cost of writing ‘Promissory Notes’ to cover recapitalisation of what were Anglo‐Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society (and have now been merged into IBRC)
ICTU seem to be arguing for a ‘Europeanisation’ of the debt.

But why should any EU citizens “lift the burden” of the mistakes of the corrupt culture among senior Eurozone bankers?
In the free market where these people do business the rules are, you pay your money and take your chance.

In the case of the Promissory Note : “At a political level discussions seem to be focused not at all on a debt write-down but on some type of ‘re-structuring’ of the debt…”

No to re-structuring.
No to a partial write-down.
No “sharing” of the burden – Drop the Debt

Last year, the Government ignored the voices of the people they were elected to represent, despite the large protests at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Dublin and at the Labour Party Conference in Galway, despite the ongoing boycott of the Household and Septic Tank charges, despite the fact that people in every city in Ireland people camped on the streets for months in protest, despite the pre budget union march in Dublin where upwards of 20 000 people took to the streets, despite the fact that TD’s offices, banks and local authorities across Ireland are regularly being picketed.

The FG/Lab government seems bent on continuing on their course of action no matter the cost to the Irish state or Irish society.

We can all see the effects of Austerity on Irish society, towns across the country are virtually empty, a generation of our young people, who were educated to the highest international standard, have now, like so many generations before them, been forced from their country because of economic necessity.

This pressure valve of emigration is the only thing that is saving this government from collapse. Community Employment Schemes, Community groups, Garda Stations, Post Offices, Fire Stations, Libraries, Nursing Homes and Hospitals the length and breadth of the country are being closed to pay a debt that cannot possibly be paid.

We have a health system that is on the brink of collapse and on a daily basis we hear stories about the disregard and in some cases contempt that government ministers have for the people who try to oppose their policies.

We cannot sit by any more and hope that someone else will win a victory and make the government see the irreversible damage that is being done to Irish society. It is up to each one of us to say that enough is enough. We must all make the decision to stand together to show the government, the banks and the EU that we will not accept this burden or debt slavery and we will not pass it on to our children.

As individuals we can no longer stand by and watch others marching for their rights and think that it has nothing to do with us. If we do, we will find that one day, after the last public hospital closes or the last service is privatized or the last river has been polluted there will be nobody left to march with us and defend our rights.

An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

We will not be bullied any longer, the truth is on our side.

 

We are the 99%

 

 

Occupy accuse Gardai of political policing on 1st anniversary

 

Yesterday marked the 1st anniversary of the establishment of the Occupy movement in Galway. This people’s movement  began with Occupy Wall St on September 17th 2011 and within weeks had spread to over 2600 towns and cities in almost 80 countries worldwide. The movement, based on the ideals of economic justice, real participatory democracy and equality of all people, saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets in every major world city.

The Occupy camps, which were established in public spaces in Galway, Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford, provided a space for the public to share and discuss information about the state of the country and the alternatives to the current political, economic and social system.  In countries like Spain and Portugal popular movements have brought millions of people onto the streets in protest at economic crisis and resist the governments attempts to enforce more pain on their people.

The day began at 11 Am with an assembly and march from Eyre Square to Brian Walsh’s office in support of the residence of Lisbrook House Asylum Centre and to protest the imminent closure of the centre and relocation of it’s almost 300 residents.

As if by fate, 2 members of the movement appeared in Galway District Court on charges of criminal damage to part of Eyre Square for writing on a wall with chalk.


 

The incident took place on the morning of the 16th of May, a few hours after Gardai and Galway City Council workers destroyed the Galway camp in the middle of the night. The charges were withdrawn by the DPP due to lack of evidence and Judge Mary Fahy seemed amused at the affair stating that no one in this county was in danger of going to jail for the use of chalk as a 2 year old could wipe it off.

After news of the court case spread a crowd began to gather in Eyre Square, someone brought chalk and members of the public, both young and old began to chalk on the square. A tent was set up as a symbolic gesture but before long around a dozen Gardai arrived and broke up the peaceful assembly of about 50 to 60 people and confiscated the tent. A short time later 3 Galway city council workers arrived to power hose the chalk away, despite the heavy rain, the judge’s earlier remarks and offers to clean the chalk by a member of the assembly.

     

The response of the Gardai and Galway city council was disproportional and an obvious waste of resources. The actions of the Gardai further demonstrate the state’s policy of political policing, intimidation, suppression and criminalisation of political movements and normal people who object to the government policy such as the actions taken against the Occupy camps, Galway Alliance Against War and the decade long campaign against local people in North Mayo.

 

Video taken of the day’s events shows the heavy handed policing towards people who were simply exercising their constitutional rights on the square and writing a few messages in chalk, the non crime according to Judge Mary Fahy.
 

The Occupy movement is alive and well in Galway will not be intimidated by such tactics and we will not go away. We will not be bullied, the truth is on our side.
 

In Galway and across the country, people are organizing and resisting the government cuts and taxes.
 

 
Only with a healthy democracy, with fairness, openness, involvement and inclusion as its guiding principles will we be able to make the change needed. Everyone must willingly accept to participate, we are all free.
 

 

Come to Eyre Square Galway, Occupy Galway Assembly

Occupy Galway General Assembly will take place at Eyres Sq, 16th June 2012.

 

 

Does anyone have a gazebo or something to provide cover that they can bring along for Saturday’s assembly please?

CaCO3 use is encouraged!

 

Also we are asking those who have had rent allowance cut or refused to attend the following meetings:

Doughiska: Reverse the Rent Cap Public Meeting
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 -  8:00 pm
Ard Family Resource Centre.

Ballybane: Reverse the Rent Cap Public Meeting
Tuesday 20th of June  -  8pm
Ballybane Resource Centre.

Westside: Reverse the Rent Cap Public Meeting
Wednesday, 21st June 2012  -  8:00 pm
Westside Resource Centre.

It’s important we get involved in the decisions that are made on our behalf, especially when they are taking from us to pay others.
Click left image to go to Facebook page.

 

 

 

You Can’t Evict An Idea

OCCUPY GALWAY POST-EVICTION PRESS STATEMENT 16/05/2012
You cannot evict an idea. Occupy Galway will only gain strength from this eviction. The Gardaí and their string-pullers in the City Council have only engendered further support and interest in the Occupy Movement. Today, we had our largest people’s assembly in many months on Eyre Square.
The movement has been reinvigorated.
We will be bigger, stronger and more active as a reaction to this abuse and waste of Garda resources. Only a few weeks ago senior Gardaí stated publicly that Occupy Galway was not acting illegally. What changed in the meantime? Already, the people of Galway are looking to the future.
We have been planning for it through the long, cold winter months.
Agents of repressive state power always come in the middle of the night, because they fear the legitimate public backlash when they finally show their true colours.
The council and Gardaí have completely missed the point of the Occupy movement. The camp played an important role in the movement’s survival through the winter, and functioned as a centre of information and education. The camp has well served its purpose, so on to Phase 2…
We have forged links with the myriad groups around the country protesting the disastrous social effects of the bailout/NAMA process. This social support network will see us through in ways that bankers, bureaucrats and their hired thugs can’t understand.
The inequity of the bank bailouts has not gone away, so one of the main reasons for out protest still exists.
It is interesting to note that other Occupy camps around the world were raided on the same night.
Solidarity to our comrades in Frankfurt, Moscow and St Johns, Newfoundland.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of people who expressed their support and solidarity, in so many ways, over the past seven months. We couldn’t have done it without you and look forward to your continued support.
Watch this space.

Press Release 30 April 2012

OCCUPY LAUNCHES VOTER REGISTRATION CAMPAIGN

Occupy is launching a voter registration initiative ahead of the Fiscal Compact Treaty referendum on the 31st of May. Registration and Change of Address forms along with information on the treaty will be available at the camp in Eyre Square in the run up to the vote.

A list of those registered is available in the library and Post Office for citizens to check if or where they are registered. Deadline for registration is on the 14th of May. Forms can be filled in at the camp or alternatively at the County Council Offices on Bother Mór.

Canvassing for the referendum has begun around the city. Details of locations and timetable will be available at the camp and on the Occupy Galway website for anyone that would like to get involved with door to door leafleting . A stall will be operating on Shop Street every Saturday from 12 till 2 in the run up to the referendum. Other informative events will be organised in the coming weeks.

Occupy Galway is open every day from 10am to 10pm and holds public assemblies every evening at 7pm. We invite people to come along and partake in this grass-roots participatory democracy. For more information call by the camp or check out www.VoteNo.ie

Thousands protest the Labour Party Conference

The members of Occupy Galway were proud to take part in what must be the biggest peaceful demonstration of solidarity and people power in Galway for many years. Between six and eight thousand people gathered on Eyre Square to march on the Labour conference and air a range of grievances from housing, water and septic tank charges, anti-bondholder bailout campaigners, anti-war, anti-fracking, SPARK, Shell to Sea and the Rossport campaigners, as well as many people unaffiliated with any group. As the crowd grew throughout the morning, it became clear that there is massive discontent at the way that the labour party has represented itself in government.

There were exaggerated claims that the protestors were violent, but these are wholly unfounded. We understand that Cllr Conneely has suggested that Occupy Galway were responsible for this. One only has to watch the many videos that are available online to see that this is a ridiculous suggestion. Thousands of people were there and wished to ensure that the Labour delegates were aware of their presence but were herded into the area at the front of the NUIG quad building, not even within sight of the conference. This left many of the protesters with the feeling that they were, once again, being ignored by their elected representatives. When several young demonstrators were pepper sprayed for simply approaching the barrier to the conference hall, the crowd became even more determined to push their way past the Gardai.

Dismissive comments by Eamonn Gilmore that he hoped the demonstrators “have a nice day”, and accusations of “bully boy tactics” levelled at the people present only serve to further distance the Labour party from their electorate.

The March on the Labour Party Conference was a hugely successful show of Solidarity and People Power and Occupy Galway were proud to be a part of this massive gathering. Labour would do well to heed the message that it delivered.