Wednesday, 18 January 2012

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.

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Occupy Belfast will be holding a Rally of Support for the Occupation on Saturday, January 21st, at 2pm outside the building, former Bank of Ireland on Royal Avenue. 
Following the rally there will be a public General Assembly whereby all are invited to participate in the discussion on where next for the movement.