County Buildings became the focal point for one of the most visual protests against the handing over of €1.25 billion by the Government to unsecured bondholders in the now dead bank Anglo-Irish Bank.
Members of Sinn Féin Republican Youth held a protest outside County Buildings, the offices and headquarters of the Galway County Council, on Prospect Hill, yesterday afternoon to demonstrate against the payments.
Protesters held up placards which read ‘Stop Handover’, ‘Fine Gael & Labour supports Troika terrorist bomb threat!’ and ‘Troika Terrorist Threat A Financial Bomb Pay €1.25bn Or Else!’
However the most dramatic was a large banner which three members of SFRY had draped across the entrance to County Buildings. The three had climbed up a large wall which projects outwards from the entrance, and sitting atop the wall they displayed a large red, white, and black banner which read: ‘1.25bn - invest in people and communities, not toxic banks.’
Three gardaí were on-site at the protest, but there were no conflicts between the gardaí and protesters, with relations remaining cordial. The gardaí’s main concern relating mainly to safety issues.
SFRY’s Mairéad Farrell told the Galway Advertiser why the group had chosen to hold the protest at County Buildings.
“The Galway County Council is dominated by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Labour and it also represents the State and the Government,” she said. “All politics starts at a local level and the local politicians should be coming out against this handover.”
However An Taoiseach Enda Kenny has pledged that the payment will go ahead. Nonetheless Ms Farrell believes protest and opposition needs to happen, even when Government remains determined to proceed.
“We need to voice our opposition,” she said. “People are against this payment. We know that from the reaction we are getting from the public at our stall on Shop Street on Saturdays. We know that from people passing by and seeing our protest.
“We need to stand up and say we are opposed to our money being used to serve a defunct bank and its speculators despite the fact the State is under no obligation to pay for these unsecured bonds.
“This money could be used to fund healthcare services and create jobs, but instead, this Government has chosen to follow the route of Fianna Fáil in selling out the Irish people for the interests of the wealthy. The same Government chooses to force austerity measures on the Irish taxpayer in order to fund these handovers.”
The protest also saw SFRY hand in a petition to the council, and addressed to all TDs, senators, and councillors in the Galway West constituency, opposing the Anglo handover.