The ghost of protests past is set to take form in the centre of the city today with members of the Occupy Galway movement holding a ‘Re-occupy Eyre Square event’ from midday today.
Promising to be a day of music, workshops, food, and informative talks, members say the aim of the rally is to remind the public the reasons why the Occupy Galway camp was set up in the first place and remained in situ in Eyre Square for seven months, making it one of the longest running in the world.
The event is also being held to mark the anniversary of the dismantling of the Occupy Galway camp by the gardai and Galway City Council. The camp had been established in October 2011 and had outlasted similar protest encampments in Paris, London, and New York. At 4.30pm on May 16, 2012, gardai entered the camp where six members were present. They were asked to leave and five voluntarily did so, however, one man refused and was subsequently arrested for a public order offence. Later council staff came on site to clear the tents and structures and to hose the area down.
It is understood Cllr Pádraig Conneely, who has been a long-time opponent of the Occupy movement, has urged Galway City Council and the gardai to ensure a similar encampment does not take up residence in Eyre Square again. He has written to Supt Marie Skehill asking that all necessary steps, within the law, be taken.
Cllr Conneely’s stance attracted even more attention at a recent meeting of Galway City Council. Just as Monday’s meeting was due to begin a man, believed to be a member of Occupy Galway, placed a document in front of Cllr Conneely who described it as “offensive”.
It is understood that the document had a picture of Cllr Conneely with the words “I’m elected, I don’t have to talk to anyone”. Immediately, Cllr Conneely made this known to the chamber calling for the person responsible to be removed. “This was put in front of me deliberately,” said Cllr Conneely. Cllr Frank Fahy, who had also witnessed the incident, fully supported this request, adding that after all the council were paying for security.
Mayor Terry O’Flaherty then read out a standing order which states that members of the public are prohibited from interfering with councillors during a meeting, or from passing notes or documents. Cllr Flaherty then asked the man to undertake not to do it again which he agreed to. However, later on in the meeting Cllr Conneely raised the issue again, informing the chamber that a member of the public was displaying a sign advertising the Re-occupy Eyre Square event and asked for it to be removed.