Occupy Cork camp dismantled but group vows protest will continue

City officials monitored the voluntary dismantling of the Occupy Cork camp yesterday — 150 days after it was established.

City Hall also provided a truck to remove the remains of some of the wooden structures which had been built on the South Mall boardwalk.

But the people behind Occupy said while the camp is gone, it is not the end of the movement itself.

Vanessa O’Sullivan, who has been part of the movement since Day 3, was among several people involved in the removal of tents yesterday. “It was a day of mixed emotions,” she said.

The decision to dismantle the camp came after a meeting following a rally on Sunday.

The announcement was made on the Occupy Cork Facebook page yesterday morning, just hours before the issue was to be discussed at a city council meeting.

Several councillors were poised to call for the camp’s removal ahead of the St Patrick’s weekend festival.

At Sunday’s rally, Occupy said “it was the feeling of everyone that it was to be the last activity at the camp”.

“We are keeping control over the removal of the structure instead of allowing for the cops/council to smash it up,” they said.

“We would like to thank everyone for their support and be assured, it may be the end of the camp but it is not the end of Occupy. We’re already planning a few other actions so keep watching! Occupy Cork.”

They described reaching day 150 as “an extraordinary achievement” and said they felt it had achieved a lot.

Those involved were meeting last night to decide their next course of action.

But businessman Ernest Cantillon, who runs the nearby Electric bar and restaurant, greeted the removal of the camp with “huge relief”.

He said the encampment directly outside his premises had hit his business hard.

“It had dire consequences for us,” he said.

“Even as recently as Sunday, when they had a rally, they had speakers, amps and megaphones and were shouting and roaring at people. People crossed the road to avoid them and that obviously had a huge effect on our trade.”

He also claimed an African staff member had been subjected to racial abuse by people staying at the camp. “I think people were initially sympathetic to their cause but when they arrived back after Christmas after saying they were leaving, that sympathy vanished,” he said.

City officials believe just two people were occupying the campsite in recent weeks.

Cllr Emmet O’Halloran (FG) said the group had made a sensible decision.

“Whilst the protest had been at all times dignified and peaceful, it is time to hand the boardwalk back to the people of Cork.

“I am delighted that the boardwalk, which the council had spent tens of thousands of euro on, will now be accessible to all of the public and not just a select few who had decided to set up camp.”

Mr Cantillon said weather permitting, he plans to stage trad music sessions on the boardwalk during the St Patrick’s weekend festival.

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