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'Occupy Dame St' camp dismantled

Irish Times Reporteers

The "Occupy Dame Street" protest camp site outside the Central Bank in Dublin has been dismantled by gardaí.

The encampment was established last October as part of the global anti-capitalist "Occupy" movement.

Gardaí moved in on the camp at 3.30am and dismantled and removed a number of structures and tents on the site as protesters were held back.

As many as 100 gardaí were involved in the operation, and Dame Street was cordoned off from Trinity College to George's Street. The area was cleared and then cleaned by council workers.

One person was arrested for public order offences outside the cordon.

Jim McLean, who was sleeping in the camp at the time, said he heard loud banging outside his shack and when he got up to check there were “guards everywhere ripping the shacks apart”.

Mr McClean said the 10 protesters in the camp at the time received no warning it was to be dismantled. He said protesters “resisted peacefully” and when gardaí were questioned on the legality of the move they produced a printout of the 2002 Housing Act.

Mr McClean said public records from every meeting held at the camp including contact details of people who had supported the occupy movement were also confiscated in the raid.

A garda spokesman said the force was obliged to move the camp for health and safety to ahead of the St Patrick's Day parade, but it “remains to be seen what happens in the future”.

A spokesman for the Central Bank confirmed it had asked Gardaí to move the campaigners.

“Following serious health and safety and public order concerns raised with the bank by An Garda Síochána, notably in relation to the forthcoming St Patrick’s Day events, the bank confirms that it requested the garda to peacefully remove the occupiers and the encampment from the Central Bank plaza,” a spokesman said.

“We will continue to take whatever advice is forthcoming from the garda in terms of the continued safe use of the plaza.”

A protest is planned at the site this evening.

Earlier this week the Occupy Dame Street movement said it would continue its protest despite a request by gardaí on February 28th to remove the camp.

Protesters said they had offered to surround the camp with metal fencing for the duration of the parade to ensure “the health and safety of both the public and camp members to the best of its ability”.

They also said they were in negotiation with the Dublin city fire service to ensure the camp was fire-safety compliant.

Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar yesterday said it was “regrettable” that those involved in the Occupy Dame Street camp would not consider relocating for a few days during the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

“I think it’s disappointing that they’re not going to move the camp for a few days. I understand they feel very strongly about their politics, but I’m sure they don’t want to damage the festival,” Mr Varadkar said.

Posted Date: 
8 March 2012