Party for freedom of streets

THE drunks from Baggot Court will certainly remember Reclaim the Streets Part Two.

They expected yesterday to be another long, boring Sunday.

They hadn’t reckoned on up to 1,000 protestors gathering around the entrance to their laneway on Dublin’s Baggot Street.

This was the scene of the second instalment of the party-demo. The original, held on May 6, is remembered for confrontations between protesters and gardaía This time it was different.

“We’re here to party and have fun. There’s no violence here. It’s a peaceful vibe,” said Jane Miller, 18, from Clontarf, sporting a half-shaved head and a big smile.

Whistles and foghorns tore the mid-afternoon air, music boomed, screams and cheers went up. Organisers had said the gardaí weren’t wanted. But they turned up anyway.

While there in some numbers, their presence was low-key and generally good-humoured.

Soon after the partying began, Supt Tom Conway of Pearse Street Station surveyed the scene. He checked with his team to see if everyone was positioned. “So far so good,” he said.

A garda helicopter hovered over the scene. Gardaí on motorbikes and jeeps blocked off both ends of the street.

Two mounted officers were on duty nearby. Garda vans were parked in the background, no doubt filled with reinforcements. They weren’t needed.

The crowd itself was a motley and good-natured crew of hippies, ravers, political activists, anarchists, cyclists, environmentalists and students, as well as the odd parent-and-child.

Jugglers and flame-throwers, artists and bongo drummers entertained. A girl dished out big, fat sandwiches to people passing Another circled the crowd blowing bubbles at people.

A version of the Italian play Accidental Death of an Anarchist was staged, updated to include the fictitious death of an anarchist at the last march, which was held on Dame Street. It went down very well with the partygoers, if not the gardaí.

Sporting an orange wig, orange top and yellow bandana, architecture student Duncan, 25, from Dublin, said: “Streets were once habitable places, now they’re for cars. If you reclaim the streets you make city life vibrant, healthy and safe. This is to make the Government aware of that.”

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