Monday, November 21, 2011

Week 6 gets real at Occupy Dame Street

It appears that tomorrow morning the Central Bank of Ireland will seek a Court Order against Occupy Dame Street. What exactly this will be for is not yet clear, whether it is to clear the site completely, remove the newly built kitchen or for some other purpose isn't yet known but will presumably become clear at some time tomorrow. People are worried about eviction, and more people are definitely needed on site - both to stay and to simply work on maintaining the space and taking the movement forward. My own feeling is that not much actually will happen tomorrow, but that remains to be seen when the details are brought out in court tomorrow. Hopefully people can provide support, and ensure that any response remains non-violent and peaceful, true to the principles of the movement.

I was away from the camp for the week, and dropped in briefly only a couple of times. On Monday things seemed somewhat strained in advance of the decision-making General Assembly that evening on whether to join with the Dublin Council of Trade Unions march on 26th November. After giving some intensive, high-speed facilitation training to the only person who was willing and available to facilitate the GA, I had to leave, but apparently the marathon three hour Assembly went relatively respectfully and managed to reach some decision. Ultimately the block was exercised by around 8 people and the final decision was for people to attend the march in personal capacities and that people were welcome to come to Occupied Dame Street afterwards, without banners. People seemed engaged but more worrying earlier in the day was the sense of people being tired and wondering where the movement was headed overall.

I dropped by for a few minutes on Thursday, in time to see the new kitchen under construction.


This had been contentious, with Central Bank employees calling in almost immediately to object and say that it should not go ahead. It's a large wooden structure, so who knows how that is being construed. From Thursday the wait was on to see what would happen.

I also dropped by briefly on Friday and caught Fintan O'Toole speaking - eloquently and inspiringly as usual, if somewhat depressingly seeing as things are always revealed by him as being just that bit worse than you thought/hoped. Have extensive video, still getting it processed and organised, but will be up on Occupy University eventually.


This evening, having seen the news of the court order suddenly appear online, I went down to talk to people and see what was really happening. Essentially the answer is head to court tomorrow, see what's actually being ordered, and then go from there. Specific individuals will be in court to record what's being said, and everyone else is encouraged to come to either the camp or the Four Courts at 9.30a.m. tomorrow to show their support outside. It seems unlikely any further move on foot of what's discussed at court will be made tomorrow, but depending on what the order is, more may happen in the coming days.


Meanwhile major structural changes had taken place at camp, with the tents all moved to one side, the kitchen finished and open space with a pallet fence all around it at the front of camp.


The kitchen had been completed:


And the first shack had been built!


It was somehow discombobulating that some of the earliest tents had moved, making the place feel radically different in just a couple of days.


I just hope people take this opportunity to discuss carefully what they are and are not willing to do. Also if it comes to a direct resistance situation, that people are clear on what non-violent resistance is, in keeping with the movement's principles. Now is a time when we need to be clear on what we are doing this for, what this movement is about, and how we are prepared to act. For me, Occupy Dame Street is about saying we as citizens want to change the political, economic and social system in this country and that we're willing to take a stand and occupy public space to start making that a reality. I want a society and a country that is fair, equal, participatory, transparent, honest and respectful of everyone, one that does not put the demands of the few, in this case the bankers, big businesses and politicians, ahead of the many, the citizens of Ireland and people of the world.



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