The man most readily associated with the Ballyhea Says No and Charleville Says No campaigns, Diarmuid O’Flynn, said yesterday the group would now change its focus towards building its campaign both politically and in the media.
The marches — held on Sunday mornings through the north Cork village — gained national and international coverage as it focused unerringly on the issue of bank-debt imposition on Ireland and, in particular, the Promissory Note debt.
Mr O’Flynn, a former Irish Examiner sportswriter, failed to secure a seat in the general election in Cork North West, having polled 2,159 first preferences.
Yesterday he announced the end of the Ballyhea march in a post on Facebook entitled ‘A Fork In The Road’.
“This coming Sunday, March 6, 2016, marks the exact 5th anniversary of the first Ballyhea Says No protest march against the imposition of the odious bank-debt on the people of Ireland, March 6th 2011. Just as that was the first Sunday after the election of a new Dáil, this is the first Sunday after another general election,” he said.
“A full five years, a full Dáil cycle, a circle closed. So it is with this phase of the Ballyhea campaign.”
Noting that bar Christmas Day 2011 the march had been conducted every week “in all weathers”, he said the group had now decided it had served its purpose. He said the campaign was still trying to “right the wrong” of bank debt imposition.
The group is to support re-elected Joan Collins TD in her continuing Supreme Court challenge to the constitutionality of the Promissory Notes, and Catherine Murphy TD on her work involving IBRC, as well as working towards “the establishment of a cross-party committee to bring this bank-debt justice fight to Europe, on the Promissory Note debt specifically”.
He said around 30 members of the next Dáil have already signed a pledge to support the campaign and he was “optimistic” Fianna Fáil would follow suit, meaning more TDs in Leinster House would lend support than not.
The group also intends to work to expand the number of MEPs who support its cause, including the establishment of a cross-group committee there to work with the proposed Dáil committee.
Mr O’Flynn said he would not be running for office again and while the campaign would continue, people who have been missing GAA matches and family events to attend every week could now return to having normal Sundays.
As for how he will spend his time at weekends now that the marches are coming to an end, he said: “I have no idea.”
And he added: “It’s been a major effort, but worth it.”