Today marks Occupy Dame Street’s 100th day of occupation in the shadow of the Central Bank of Ireland building in central Dublin. It is a good time for us to reflect on where we are now, and where we can go from here.
The last 100 days have been exhilarating and exhausting for those of us involved in this occupation. There have been moments of great hope, but we must also recognise there have been moments of difficulty. Today we mark 100 days of direct opposition to the economic suffering being imposed on Ireland and we look to the future and the alternatives we can create together.
In our demonstrations we saw the positive and hopeful energy of vast diversity of people in this city who were no longer prepared to obey this government’s demands, on behalf of the EU and IMF, that we tighten our belts and give in to unnecessary and unfair use of public money.
We have made many new friends, and forged new alliances with people who saw, as we did, that this country and its institutions are increasingly run in the interests of the privileged few – the 1% – and at the expense of the many – the 99%. The Central Bank plaza became a key site in the city for dialogue, learning, song, poetry, friendship and resistance.
We’ve been humbled and inspired by those people who have extended their support in so many ways, via donations of blankets, food, money, clothing, construction expertise, and their time; by standing guard over the camp in the middle of the night in sometimes difficult circumstances and awful weather; by participating in workshops, marches, celebrations and on-line; and by spreading the word in their communities.
In these people’s acts of solidarity and support, we glimpse a better future than the one planned for us by the European and Irish authorities. Their future, the ideal future of the 1%, involves untold billions more in public money being stolen by bank bondholders, higher taxes on poor and working people to fund the wealthy, continued high unemployment, the implosion of small businesses, and the ongong and accelerating dismantling of our public services, our social safety net, and our protections in the workplace. As a result of our constant interactions with the multitudes of ordinary people who have stopped off, however briefly, to express their support for the occupation – it is clear to us that these concerns are widely shared and that those who are prepared to resist the anti-democratic imposition of such a future can expect broad public support.
Here outside the Central Bank, we stand in opposition to the 1%’s future of inequality and fear, and we will stand alongside anyone else prepared to resist. We stand for collective action and stand against privatised despair; we stand for a decent wage and against unemployment and unpaid labour; we stand for justice and against inequality. We stand for the 99%.
We are a group of ordinary people. Many of us have never been involved in anything like this sustained act of protest and resistance before. We, together with the network of supporters that has formed around the occupation, are learning from our mistakes, growing up in public and developing new ways to resist. We continue to stand together, to learn with and from each other, and to provide a platform for people to generate their own, varied and multiple, solutions.
As winter gives way to spring, we resolve to maintain our occupation at the Central Bank. We are determined to continue to challenge the anti-democratic and unjust power of the 1% and to support real, participatory democracy of the 99%. We intend to strengthen the bonds we have forged with Occupy movements across the island -in Galway, Cork Belfast, Dublin, Limerick, Waterford and Louth, and with our friends from the Spectacle of Defiance.
We are inspired by the new Community Resource Centre in Cork and the courage of workers staging sit-ins at Vita Cortex and La Senza, the Kingscourt Brick workers, and all the everyday people showing their support for them. We also salute the campaign of non-payment of the household tax and salute those involved in building it.
Our own movement began in response to what we had seen in North America, Iceland, Greece, Spain and North Africa. Slowly but surely, despair on this island is giving way to resistance, and it is now seeing what other people are doing here that propels us onward. We are progressing steadily, our confidence grows that we are going far.
Right now, there can be no better an example of how this country is ruled in the interests of the wealthy few than the planned payments to Anglo Irish Bank unsecured bondholders, the first of which is due on January 25th.
From Occupied Dame Street, we say to the people of this country and beyond: This is nothing but a robbery and extortion of the people on an epic scale. It is quite simply economic treason. THESE PAYMENTS MUST BE STOPPED.
Occupy Dame Street are committed to a vigorous campaign against these payments and we encourage other groups, formed and yet to be formed, to commit in their own ways to doing the same in the coming days and weeks.
We are presently organising our own direct actions and civil disobedience to forcefully oppose the payments. We ask you to join us.
We can stop them. We are many – they are few.
We are the 99%