08 October 2012

#OccupyDameStreet - We're getting the band back together!

Everyone's got their best marching trousers on and are all set to go
Garden of Remembrance, Dublin, Saturday 6th October
Under a cold October sky a small group of people gathered on Saturday to mark the anniversary of Occupy Dame Street. A token march left the Garden of Remembrance and walked down to the Central Bank Plaza, where three days of workshops, music and celebration (but no camping) kicked off.

I went along to catch up with old friends, people who I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with for many long dark and wet months and although there was great joy in seeing so many familiar faces, the day felt more like a wake than a celebration. There were too many people who were not there, folks who had left in disagreement, frustrated with the Movement's inability to affect change or who felt chased away for trying to move things along in a different direction. Missing too was the groundswell of support from the wider public that symbolised those first few weeks in October last year, squandered and evaporated in the winter rain that followed.

Occupy Dame Street, back where it belongs, on Dame Street!
Dame Street, Dublin, Saturday 6th October
As I stood and chatted with those who still carry the banners of Occupy, taking the fight into the banks themselves, I was glad that there are those who continue to take a stand but I could not exorcise the nagging demons of doubt from my mind over what might have been if Occupy Dame Street had lived up to the promise of those heady first few weeks.

I am still so very proud of Occupy Dame Street and what we did. For five months an alternative self-governing community existed in the heart of post-Tiger Dublin, a symbol of protest against the decade of social injustices heaped upon this country in the name of neo-liberal fantasies. It didn''t have all the answers, but at least it was asking the right questions. A long time veteran of the Left asked me how could I remain so positive about the whole Occupy experience, and I explained that what stays in my mind is those first six weeks, not the final two months, that I have not let the way it all collapsed in upon itself sour the feelings of euphoria that its inception created in me.

One year on and it's still not our debt!
Dame Street, Dublin, Saturday 6th October
As the banners were unfolded on Saturday and the march began I joked with my comrades-in-arms that we were getting the band back together, but sadly if truth be told the band isn't what it used to be, for thanks to old age and musical differences only a handful of the original lineup remains, knocking out out-of-tune cover versions of their greatest hits. The crowd don't mind, all we're here for are the hits. We don't care if the high notes aren't quite as high any more, all we care about is that for a few brief moments all our cares melt away and we are transported back in time to those glory days when the world before us was a blank book of possibilities and we really were going to change the world.

Festivities continue today, I'll be down there again for one more General Assembly, one more set of waving Jazz Hands, one more glimpse at what was, and what might have been.

All day, all week.
Occupy Dame Street!

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