‘There are people who are willing to take a stand’

FOR a revolution, it’s a model of civic mindedness. No alcohol. No drugs. No noise. No trouble.

Rosters of teams tasked with cleaning, security, food, logistics and media production.

Timetables of speakers. Bowls of fruit and cannisters of hot tea and coffee for activists and onlookers alike.

OccupyDameStreet is now two weeks old and — according to the activists — the urban camp is going nowhere.

“We’ve no hassle from the guards,” said Dean Scurry, from Ballymun, north Dublin. “We don’t give them any reason. There’s no drinking, no drugs, no violence, no loud music. We’re blessed they allow us to have tents — in New York they’re not allowed them.”

Inspired by OccupyWallStreet, up to 50 tents are camped right on the doorstep of the Central Bank, taking up much of the plaza.

“We have around 80-100 people here,” said Robin Wilson, from Dundalk, Co Louth, who has been there from the start.

“At night more people come along, others have family commitments and go home. We have people in their 60s here. We have people who are working, who leave the site and go to work and come back.”

Speaking to Robin, 37, on a crisp Thursday morning after a cold, winter’s night, he said the nights haven’t been a problem: “It’s been grand. You stick on layers and you’re alright.”

He said the atmosphere has kept him and everyone else going: “I thought it would be an endurance test because of the conditions, but its been the opposite, it’s just been a real buzz here.

“We have a strict no alcohol and no drugs policy, nothing at all. I’ve done a lot of camping at festivals and elsewhere, I’ve never been around this many people for this long with no drink and no drugs. Nobody’s missing them.”

Dean, also 37, said they also get good will from local businesses. “They let us use their toilets, we have meetings in some, they’ve provided us with food.”

Dean joined after getting a message from a friend on Facebook. “I’ve been working since before I left school, doing a lot of things, I worked as youth worker, a stand-up comedian, arts facilitator, producer, but recently, no matter how flexible and dynamic I’ve been, its very difficult to get anything unless you do it for free.”

Robin said he ran a Polish bar in Dundalk before it went bust. “A lot of the customers started going home with the recession, so I’m unemployed now.”

He added: “Irish people are punch drunk from all the negativity. The issues we’re trying to highlight here, the democratic system we have isn’t working, our Government was elected to stick up for us and burn the bond holders, that’s not happened. Since coming to power they are just burning the people.”

He said the camp was showing people that “there are people who are willing to take a stand”.

Robin said no outside group or political party will be allowed to “hijack” the camp.

Luke, 19, from Kildare, looks so young standing beside his fellow activists. He said he found a cause, one he has been looking for.

“In my life things were pretty rosy in the garden. As I went through the typical schooling system I had huge objections. I seemed to be encountering frictions wherever I’ve gone in my life. I always felt something wasn’t right in my life. I could never put a finger to that.

“Once I started researching alternative news and turned off Sky News, once I didn’t pay attention to that cynical cycle of information, I found new information from a broad spectrum of sources. I felt inspired to find out more for the first time in my life.”

He said when he heard about the camp, he left for Dublin.

“I started helping out. Most of all I wanted to learn, because I’m still young, I’m pretty naive about the detail of the circumstances that we are dealing with.”

He said he sleeps at the camp for two nights and then goes back to his parents’ home for a night’s sleep, shower and a proper meal.

“As I stood here longer and longer, I realised that’s the very thing that prevents us as a society from moving forward, is that fear to stand up. We rather lay down and live.”

He said his parents worry about him at the site, but respect his decision to join the camp.

“I realise I have to get my family down here at Christmas, I actually do,” he said.

“I have to try and get the people I care about down here.”

*The camp will march today at 2pm from the Garden of Remembrance to the Central Bank. Veteran singer-come-rebel Billy Bragg is expected to perform.

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