Occupy Belfast – rebels without a cause?

Occupy Belfast Fist posterOccupy Belfast are reclaiming the ‘O’ word in these neck of the woods as they organise a protest “to show solidarity with workers and young people fighting against austerity and for a better future across the world, and to tell our politicians that the fight is coming to them”.

Over the weekend, there were hundreds of arrests in New York as Occupy Wall Street protesters were disrupted by the NYPD. Arrests seem unlikely as the Belfast sister organisation plans its first protest in ten day’s time.

To me, Occupy Belfast lacks a clear purpose. The Occupy Belfast Facebook page is run by one person, while the @OccupyBelfast twitter account (with 71 followers) is independently run by another. Liam is thirteen years old and I asked him about the group.

What’s the idea behind Occupy Belfast? How does it fit in with other groups around the world, like Occupy Wall Street?

The idea behind it is that we need to end corporate greed. We need change in our government, who care not for people, but for profit! The whole world needs to unite and say enough is enough. We want the 99% to rule, not the unrepresentative 1%.

What kind of establishments around Belfast do you think merit protest?

Since Belfast is pretty small compared to other places, I think a pretty good target would be the City Hall, as it’s on the main street in Belfast we would generate a lot of attention.

You say “we need to stand together and fight, no matter where we are from”. Surely Belfast has had enough fighting in its past? Or do you see this as the latest in a long line of protests – perhaps seeing parallels with civil rights marches – standing up for rights in society?

I don’t mean fighting as a sense of violence, I mean that people as a community, as a country, say that they are angry. And that no matter who you are, whether you are catholic, protestant or any other religion, that we need to leave our fighting and differences aside to make a better world for ourselves and for each other.

On the 15 October between 2pm and 5pm, Occupy Belfast will be protesting at Belfast City Hall. With New York Stock Exchange Technologies tucked away in Adelaide Street and Citibank in Titanic Quarter, the council headquarters is hardly an imaginative financial target.

As it’ll be a static protest without any parade, they’ll not need to worry about registering with the Parades Commission, and won’t even have to inform the PSNI. But I seriously doubt whether this fragmented protest group will last outside the City Hall gates until 5pm … The Progressive Unionist Party conference that will be happening that morning in the east of the city will attract a larger crowd …