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The liberation of a former Bank of Ireland building in Belfast

category ireland / britain | community struggles | news report author Wednesday January 18, 2012 17:29author by WSM - Workers Solidarity Movement Report this post to the editors

Occupy Belfast seized the initiative Monday by re-possessing the former Bank of Ireland building in Royal Avenue gaining media coverage both here and across the world. Around a dozen protestors including a WSM member entered the building, unfurled banners and put up barricades despite early attempts by the police to illegally evict us. A WSM member who took part gives us his views on the occupation below.

Occupied Bank of Ireland building
Occupied Bank of Ireland building


The liberation of a former Bank of Ireland building in Belfast


Occupy Belfast seized the initiative Monday by re-possessing the former Bank of Ireland building in Royal Avenue gaining media coverage both here and across the world. Around a dozen protestors including a WSM member entered the building, unfurled banners and put up barricades despite early attempts by the police to illegally evict us. A WSM member who took part gives us his views on the occupation below.

In a well planned and calculated operation taking the police by surprise, Occupy Belfast decided to occupy the building the night before put in necessary equipment and unveil the banners at mid-day in front of the media. The gorgeous listed building and former home of the Belfast stock exchange has remained empty for several years under the ownership of a property developer keen to use it as monopoly and speculation. It is also apparently haunted and used for the annual Halloween haunted incursions across the city.

Morale and confidence remains high as we hope to build on the momentum, support and solidarity shown by the wider public. Despite the damp conditions inside we have access to necessary supplies including an electricity generator, providing a space and forum to organise and agitate. The Fire Brigades Union have also refused to be used as pawns by the PSNI and have stated that they will not enter the building unless there is a fire risk.

The statement below was last night read out at a quickly arranged rally attended by up to 100 people. It also urged support for this occupation from the trade union movement.

"Occupy Belfast have taken control of the Bank of Ireland on Royal Avenue in opposition to soaring homelessness, lack of affordable social housing and home repossessions.

We hope today's announcement will serve to initiate the building of a housing campaign. Building such a campaign will not be easy. To do so we need to begin to organise as workers, students and the unemployed in a real and meaningful way in our communities - to become involved in discussing, agreeing on and organising the tactics necessary to build resistance and a better society for all.

No politician will do it for us. We hope the seizure of the Bank of Ireland will be the place to begin. Banks take our houses so we take their buildings. This is a repossession for the community."

Solidarity is Strength!


Interview with Occupy Belfast activist by Slugger O'Toole: here

Belfast WSM member "Jack White" also spoke in a personal capacity on the North's most popular BBC radio Ulster Stephen Nolan, along with Finbar from Occupy Belfast. Occupy Belfast activists talk about 35 mins in.

The WSM are organising a public meeting on fighting the cuts & anarchist alternative at 2pm in the Fresh cafe, 48 King street. All welcome.

Related Link: http://www.wsm.ie

occupy.jpg

Rally in support of occupation
Rally in support of occupation

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