Occupy Dame Street camp cleared

The Occupy Dame Street camp in Dublin city centre has today been cleared by gardaí and councils chiefs.

The Occupy Dame Street camp in Dublin city centre has today been cleared by gardaí and councils chiefs.

The anti-capitalist protesters have called for public support after their camp was dismantled outside the Central Bank.

Up to 100 gardaí and officials from Dublin City Council were involved in the operation, which began at about 3.30am.

Dame Street was cordoned off with about 15 protesters kept outside a perimeter while the site was cleared 10 days ahead of St Patrick’s Day Festival, which includes a parade past the site.

A Garda spokesman said one person was arrested for public order outside the cordon.

Gardaí said they had communicated by letter and in person with the organisers of the Dame Street protest in recent weeks outlining the significant health and safety concerns at the site over the St Patrick’s Day parade.

“We sought their assistance and co-operation, however this was not forthcoming,” a spokesman said.

“This morning’s operation continued for a number of hours as the site was cleared.

“An Garda Síochána’s priority is to ensure that all of St Patrick’s Day events and celebrations pass off smoothly and that all participants and the large crowds of spectators at the parade can access and egress the parade route without a risk or threat to their health and safety.”

Yesterday, Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said it was regrettable that those involved in the protest would not consider temporarily relocating during the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

"What I had hoped that they would do is maybe to move the camp for a few days, which is what's been done in other cities, you know this is the longest-standing camp in the one place, but they're unwilling to do that, which I think is regrettable," he said yesterday.

"I think if they had more concern about Dublin and tourism in the country, they would be willing to relocate for a few days."

The Occupy Dame Street movement had said it would continue its protest despite a garda request to move last month.

The group had been camping at the site since last October in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York.

A protest is planned at the site later today.

One member of the group was furious that the camp was cleared.

"It's sad really that this has happened," he said.

"They wanted to sweep under the carpet any vestige of resistance to what is going on in Ireland for Paddy's Day, so the cameras would not see that there is any form of sign to say that something is terribly wrong in this country."

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