Press release relating to recent meetings between Occupy Galway and Galway City Director of Services, Ciaran Hayes.
On the 27th March, a delegation from Occupy Galway met with Ciaran Hayes, Director of Services for Galway City Council, and senior members of An Garda Siochana, at the request of Mr Hayes.
They were advised, once again, that the Council would like the camp to be removed from Eyre Square. They were also advised, by the Gardai, that there are discretionary powers that can be used to remove the camp, although what these are were not made clear. However, it was also confirmed once again that the illegality of the camp is not established. It has been stated on several occasions that the camp is breaking no laws and there have been no complaints from members of the public therefore it is unclear why there should be any need for discretionary powers to be utilised in this matter.
This meeting was discussed during General Assemblies and, on Friday 30th March, members of Occupy Galway met again with Ciaran Hayes and the Gardai and advised them that there has been no decision made as yet, but that we will continue to discuss the future of Occupy Galway and hope they will continue to recognise our right to peacefully assemble and protest. We will also be seeking legal advice as soon as possible in order to clarify our position with regard to the discretionary powers that the Garda have referred to.
Occupy Galway has also been furnished with a copy of the Health and Safety Report arising from an inspection carried out on the 14th February. We have been requesting a copy of this report since the inspection and are rather concerned that the results of this inspection were not made available to us sooner. We are, however, glad that we are finally able to act to correct any issues that may constitute a danger to ourselves or members of the public. The issues raised in the report are now being addressed. We would like to stress that we take every step possible to ensure that the camp is legal, clean and as safe as possible and, indeed, there have been no injuries or accidents in the time we have been here.
We at Occupy Galway feel that we are providing a service to the city that is particularly necessary in today’s turbulent times. The camp acts as an information hub that is used by many campaign groups. We distribute information leaflets and promote events for groups such as Amnesty International, Shell2Sea, Debt Justice Network, Campaign against the Household Tax, Anti Eviction Taskforce, and various other groups. The camp has been used for meetings by some of these groups and we also regularly hold talks by economics experts in order to inform ourselves and the public. We highlight the odious payments that are regularly going from tax payers’ money to pay bankers gambling losses and educate ourselves and the public about the current financial situation. On 2nd April, we put up blue balloons and painted some of the fence blue to highlight World Autism Day and the launch of Galway Autism Partnership. This group had sought the council’s permission to decorate the fountain and trees in the square with some small lanterns but had been refused, so we agreed to help out.
It is collaborations like these that highlight the importance of the Occupy Galway camp to the local community. We also believe that it is essential that everybody is well informed in these troubled times, and that there is a way for campaign groups to link together so that the people may have as loud a voice as possible in the decisions that will shape the future of our country.