Bonhomie and not bulldozers will settle Occupy issue

There has been much written and said about the presence of the Occupy Galway camp in Eyre Square — and this week as they celebrated their 150th day on site, the debate has been ever more vociferous. With the dismantling of the Dublin camp and the voluntary evacuation of the Cork site, there is much pressure on the Galway site to do likewise, to say ‘we’ve done our bit, we’ve made a stance, but now we feel it is time to go’.

For most of their 150 days in the Square, they feel they have been misunderstood and that the greater population outside the camp just are not getting the cause for which they are fighting. This despite the fact that almost everyone outside the camp is experiencing daily the realities of the cause they are espousing.

And to this end, we welcomed them to the Square. They brought a little colour and a constant presence to that normally dark side of the Square. They were a focal point for people genuinely wishing to find out what the Occupy movement was about, and in the main, they have been very agreeable and personable neighbours.

They have featured on our front page several times, and in many places within, as well as extensively on our online presence. This we felt was important because the channels of discourse were open and they could use the media to get their point across.

To this effect, they have been quite proactive, using both traditional and social media. They have had 150 days in which to convince people that their argument and the physicality of their protest was justified. If there has not been success after 150 days, one wonders how many days it would take to convince people that theirs is the right action.

But despite this, there has been much hostility to their presence, partly because most believe the same courtesies would not be extended to say members of the Travelling community, were they to set down their community in the midst of Eyre Square. Right from the off, there has been a reluctance by the Garda in particular to move the camp on, because they have rightly felt that they were not doing anybody any harm. And that is still the case, whether or not you agree with their belief they can make a difference, they have not been hurting anyone with their words. What a lot of people find galling though is that they have no choice but to face the reality of the recession by getting out to work every day and putting in a hard shift to make sure families were fed. And to be lectured to by others who claim to have expertise in economics, many find galling.

In interviews this week, it is very unclear if the group know exactly what it would take for them to close the camp and walk away. The global restructuring of the banking system which they seek, is unlikely to happen in the near future.

Dialogue between the camp and the city council turned to legalese in the past 48 hours, which is always regrettable because it costs the taxpayers money when the legal eagles get involved. The permission for the camp to stay and even to be moved to accommodate the Christmas market was word of mouth, face to face, gentleman’s agreement sort of stuff, and it is that, not bulldozers and diggers that will ultimately resolve this issue, to the satisfaction of all sides.

 

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