10 October 2011

#OccupyDameStreet - I've got a list of demands!

Has anyone seen our €115 Billion?
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Monday 10th October
Dawn, or a reasonable approximation thereof, rose over the Central Bank this morning revealing under its speckled shafts of greyness, wonder of wonders, a protest camp! Despite last night's fears that come the working week the Central Bank would ask the gardai to move everyone on bright and early so as not to disturb the view of the IMF coordinators setting up shop inside to oversee our books, no such act occurred. The gardai throughout this have been conspicuous by their absence, and when present have been incredibly positive and facilitating, to the point of asking the Overnighters to call them if the passing-by drunks get too much to handle.

In return the Camp has pursued its policy of non-interference with the Central Bank and its employees with vigour, with entrances remaining unblocked and tents moved last night to accomodate foot traffic into the Bank. This is the most polite and civilized protest I have seen since last year's march for Proportional Representation in London.

Do they teach 'Looming' in Journalism school?
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Monday 10th October
What was supposed to be a quick run in with coffees for the early morning risers on Day Three of Occupied Dame Street got unexpectedly delayed by the sudden arrival of Ireland's meeja. I have learned three things about Ireland's meeja today, a) they don't work on the weekend, B) they don't like early mornings and c) none are willing to be the first to cover a difficult story, but once the first has broken cover they all descend en masse like piglets at a trough, scrabbling over each other and fighting for the same scraps. Around 11:30 this morning came the first interviewer from the Irish Times, followed by RTE radio, Today FM, Spin FM, a different part of RTE radio and finally TV3 with cameraman and looming reporter. As the phone batteries of the Overnighters had long since gone the way of Irish Sovereignty, Unkie Dave's phone was pressed into meeja duty facilitating a number of on-air interviews (as I jumped around the camp shouting "I'm participating! I'm participating!", though mostly in my head). I almost managed to avoid talking to any journalists myself, only crumbling at the last minute when caught off-guard by The Irish Times Online. Sneaky little Journalistses.

Today FM visit the camp
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Monday 10th October
One aspect of #OccupyDameStreet and the #Occupy movement in general that seemed to mystify the meeja was the fact that it is both leaderless and, on the face of it, has rather nebulous goals. The fact that it is a political movement outside the Party Political system means that it has a broad appeal, and the folks involved come from a wide range of backgrounds with an even wider range of reasons for talking part, all united by the desire to stand up and say 'Enough is Enough" to their political and economic masters. But still journalist after journalist asked "Who started this? Who is in charge? What are you hoping to accomplish?". While the first question is irrelevant, and the second is easy (Nobody and Everybody), the third is a little trickier to answer.

Spin FM visit the camp.
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Sunday 9th October
I am there because I am tired of decisions being taken by those with political and economic authority on behalf of the richest 1% in this country (and the world). Politicians are elected by the people, and should represent The People, the 99%, and not the economic elite and certainly not the Corporations. The recent election changed nothing except who sits where in the Dail, the policies being pursued are unchanged, the interaction with the IMF is unchanged, and the lack of accountability of those who destroyed our economy and bankrupted the State is unchanged. I do not think that by campaigning outside the Central Bank the walls of Capitalism are going to come tumbling down, I do not think that the spirit of '68 will seize the country and we'll all go marching down Kildare Street arm in arm, and I do not think that a single banker will develop an urge to go home and rethink their life, but what I do hope is that as the elected representatives of the people sit and draw up the Budget, they will see the crowds and hear the outrage, and maybe, just maybe, will remember who they are accountable to and what they were elected into office for.

Reading out the List of Demands at the General Assembly
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Monday 10th October
And if all of this is too broad a concept for the meeja to squeeze into a sound bite-sized nugget, at today's General Assembly four pillars of the #OccupyDameStreet movement, first suggested in the launch press release, were endorsed unanimously:
"Our demand in Ireland is that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB) stay out of our affairs. We do not want their influence or control. Our demand is that the private bank debt that has been socialised and burdened upon the population of the country who had nothing to do with it be lifted. We will not pay and let our children and grandchildren pay for this mess that private banks and bondholders have caused. It is their problem, not ours. Our demand is that the oil and gas reserves off our coast that were criminally handed away to private corporations be returned to the people. Our demand is for real, participatory democracy - where the people’s interests come first, where the people decide what happens."
While the order and the significance of these might vary from participant to participant, and there certainly are a raft of other platforms that individuals feel passionately about, these four were important enough to be unanimously endorsed by the Assembly, so you should feel free to tell them to any of your friends who say "Jaysys, why are all them hippies banging drums off College Green?".

And for the record, I despise drumming circles.

More photos from the day have been added here

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At 9:29 pm, Blogger petrapig said...

thank the loward you are expressing the thoughts of many many irish people who would be there if not for commitments that keep them sloggin away to pay the faceless ,, Let it be known that you have alot more support than you think and more will be jioning you this weekend , i will travel to Dublin with 3 children under 4 to standbeside my 99% fellow irishmen and women - please keep giong and don't let it fizzle out, if it does it means the over 70's are the only real winners in protesting== kudos to all at the CB this minute GXXXXXXX

At 10:01 pm, Blogger clara said...

hi gxxxx
i admire you taking a stand and making yur decision!! and thanks for the report, great description of the general feel up in Dame st. i spent the weekend with the guys n gals, but had to return home to look after my family too, little kidds too. bt will be heading up midweek and again the weekend for full two days. i urge anyone considering to take to the streets, dont think twice about it, xx

At 9:37 am, Anonymous k.daniel said...

It's not just the 'meeja' who are scratching their heads. For a lot of people who also want something to change, watching a movement with no concrete plan or leadership does not inspire them (myself) to participate. And how are politicians to be influenced (a goal you stated) as Lee Page in the Irish Times is quoted as saying that anyone is invited 'except politicians, to come down and speak with us. We also want anyone who wants to come and join our protest.'

So... the people you hope to influence aren't to show up and engage? Please stop telling yourselves that this is inclusive and the only people who don't get it are part of the 'system'. Some people want to engage, are flailing around for one small bit of substance to cling to in what is going on down there, and not finding it. I hope this comment will be published. The critique is not censure. And it is a sentiment the movement will have to grapple with if a critical mass of citizen support it to be obtained. Without that...

At 8:20 pm, Blogger Catherine Couvert said...

Daniel, I can see where you're coming from but there IS a point to symbolic protests that just say we are fed up with the world order, without making concrete demands. Other people elsewhere can articulate it in politicians' language, political parties can decide what their party policy is. Vague demands and leaderless movements represent how many people feel: powerless at some level, unsure how to react, but still wanting to make a 'visual' point. Beats looting anytime!

At 10:03 pm, Blogger petrapig said...

hi Clara,
i went to Dublin on my own today and stood beside the people that can be there when we cannot. Was some very interesting debate and idea's on a new way forward. The conversation has started at least
Daniel, i'm with Catherine, i was there today because my veiws or welfare or that of my 3 babies are not being represented by anyone in the Dáil or Brussells..shout stop and get a say in our's and their futures..they who represent us need to do just that.

untill we get on the streets and effect change as te over 70's did we will get nowhere as a state. We are bobbing around in the lake that is the
EU, rudderless with the captains tied to the rudder.
xxcy you all atthe weekend Gxx

At 1:53 pm, Anonymous Kate Bopp said...

K. Daniels has articulated my sentiments accurately. I have written blogposts that echo similar frustration with IMF/ECB bailout. I ran as a protest candidate in #ge11 because none of our politicians represented what I felt were our best interests. The opportunity for change was #ge11 & the vast majority of Irish citizens chose to keep their heads in the sand. What do you hope to achieve? Why dont you lead by example & boycot banks & large corporations? Stop buying their products. Camping in the street is not particularly bothering those who are warm & dry & still enjoying revenue streams. DO engage with politicians. Engage like crazy with them! Get so in their faces that both they & mainstream media can no longer ignore you. Stop attacking those with a different view & labeling us as *part of the problem*. I am personally not a 1% mega rich individual. Very far from it in fact. You guys need to take the blinkers off if you want ground sweeping support.


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