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 …

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  • Drumlins Rock

    I take it this is a Nationalist only protest, as Northern Ireland is part of the UK, so it is not “UK and Northern Ireland”?

    As for the two free countries, military rule in Egypt is hardly freedom, hopefully they are going in that direction, but it seems strange that a socialist group are celebrating the overthrow of socialist regimes to be replaced with much more capitalist ones.

    Could have fun ripping this apart all day, but better things to do, hope the kids have a nice wee day out in the city.

    ps. Exclude my name from the 99% “we”

  • sonofstrongbow

    I’ll ignore the group’s lack of understanding of political geography and go with DR.

    It may not have the ring of “I’m Spartacus” but I say ‘I’m Not of The 99’.

  • It’s good that young people are demonstrating against societal evils. It has always been their job to do so. As to how successful they might be, they are up against the ones with money and influence whether a good influence or a malevolent one is wide open to debate. These young people will be the leaders of the future and the ones who will pay our pensions so we should encourage them to stand up for what they think is right, even though they may be wrong in their proposed solutions. The more public debate, the better.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I think that youth unemployment is festering and the protest is understandable and predictable.

    If I a person with a Masters in Physics/Maths and a MPhil in Electronic Engineering can be turned down for the old dogmas of work experience, can only work part time due to Asperger’s Syndrome making me unable to do retail and call centre work to the point that I am actually considering even more qualifications. Imagine how much fun people without my qualifications are having.

    We made these people parasites and yet have the naive belief that they will save us at pensionable age after maxing out our credit cards on luxuries at the expense of their essentials like jobs.

    Why are they protesting, they’re young, they’re free … they may spend 10 years or more on the dole regardless of whether or not they get jobs … but alas we get look very hard within ourselves at our failing healths from long lives of jobs, free education and yet find some reason to get bitter enough to say that getting on the career ladder at least one time in your life is only a utopian vision.

    Nice, high class…

  • FuturePhysicist

    they may spend 10 years or more on the dole regardless of whether or not they get jobs …

    I meant degrees.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Honestly people who will mention the Hungry Thirties … The Hungry Thirties will be nothing in comparison to what your grandchildren will face.

  • Carsons Cat

    How do you put this diplomatically, and without playing the ball…..

    The wee lad’s thirteen – surely he can wait till his acne clears up before he overthrows world capitalism. I mean, he’s bound to have homework to do first.

  • TwilightoftheProds

    Pesky kids. How dare they, as teenagers, show some interest in their political future and actually get up put of their chairs and organise an actual protest. Their views are so simplistic!

    Much better to continue re-fighting the Troubles behind a keyboard, in the nuanced and analytical manner we find on blogs.

  • Rory Carr

    So, some fine fellows loudly deny that they are part of the 99% indicating that they would have us believe that they are among the elite 1%. They wish.

    Yet they would sooner sit beneath the master’s table hoping for a crumb to fall or the opportunity to lick the master’s hand than ever to protest. It is not in their nature. They are a docile, house trained animal and they would caution the young to be like them lest by their miltant example they make them look meek and imploring.

  • Well said TwilightoftheProds…

    I don’t think that anybody on here can legitimately criticise this young man. He is trying to do [i]something[/i]. More than those of you who come on here day after day with your sectarian ramblings have probably ever done.

    Yes it lacks purpose and no it is not really worthy of a post on Slugger. But don’t tear the guy apart.

    Slugger is home to a lot of keyboard nationalists and unionists and others who never put their very strong political views into any sort of action.

    Good for him. He’ll learn eventually about the little mistakes he has made in organising this.

  • Ceist

    I’d be pretty proud if a kid of mine was aware of international politics/events at 13.

    I think I was still playing computer games.

    As for choosing city hall, why not? It’s long since assumed the role of a defacto speakers corner (or have I missed the powers Belfast City Council have over for example Palestine, Iran, dissident republican terror, water charges etc?)

    Fair play to the organisers and best of luck

  • Turgon

    “Slugger is home to a lot of keyboard nationalists and unionists and others who never put their very strong political views into any sort of action.”

    In a democracy the usual way of putting one’s views into action is voting. I suspect most of us have done that. Joining a political party is also a mechanism of putting one’s views into action. One can stand for election but a lot of us do not want to do that.

    As to protesting that is fine: unfortunately it not infrequently turns to violence.

    If less people in Northern Ireland had put “their very strong political views” into certain specific actions there would be 3,000 more people here alive today.

    Protests if peaceful are fine. However, it is very unfair to disparage those whose contribution to a democracy is no more than voting and obeying the law: and of course helping pay for the state to function.

  • Turgon

    You got the italics thing wrong beause they are the wrong brackets. Instead of the square ones use the pointy ones. On most UK keyboards they are the shift versions of , and . Unfortunately I cannot write them to demonstrate as they then do not appear.

  • Greenflag

    ‘rebels without a cause?

    More than any other group in NI society or for that matter in the Republic or the UK the younger section of the population have a cause and that is to ensure that their elected government or governments in the case of NI represent their interests and NOT those of the City of London or Wall Street or for that matter Dublin.

    For those who may want to understand some insight into the background and the role of the banksters in the lead up to this crisis heres a link which is informative and understanable for those who somehow believe it’s too complex to come to grips with . There nothing complex about theft if you are Goldman Sachs or Anglo Irish -its just the scale of it that’s different .


    Well done the Belfast protestors and the Manchester ones and I’m sure we”l see more in London and Dublin as the governments and elected politicians continue to fail to address and resolve the never ending crisis of financial sector bankster capitalism in it’s present format . It’s been several years since the fit hit the shan and sofar the ‘politicians everywhere have no answers other than outmoded shibboleths of ‘austerity ‘ for everybody except for the banksters and those who wallow in their shade 🙁

  • FuturePhysicist

    It’s ridiculous that they’ve been called ‘rebels without a cause’ the simple economic reality is that you cannot expect people without jobs to pay off both the debt and welfare of the previous generation over the next generation. In an uncivilized world only the crazy seem altruistic.

    The cause is definitely there.

  • Reader

    Greenflag: For those who may want to understand some insight into the background and the role of the banksters in the lead up to this crisis heres a link which is informative and understanable for those who somehow believe it’s too complex to come to grips with .
    I find the ‘banksters’ hugely annoying because of their rent-seeking behaviour – their belief that because they handle loads of other people’s money they are entitled to be hugely wealthy themselves. And no doubt that – combined with their risk taking – was harmful.
    But the real problem is that politicians were more than happy to cream tax and votes out of an asset bubble, for as long as it lasted. For 5-10 years they were able to hide the fact that the west was living beyond its means. You could crucify men in suits all over the Square Mile, and it might make you happier, but it won’t bring back the bubble.
    So (relative) austerity is inevitable until we get enough growth to satisfy Micawber. Keynes won’t bring back that lifestyle – we need fusion power.

  • FuturePhysicist – it’s not ridiculous in my eyes. If a cause can’t be articulated – and it’s a criticism against the Occupy Wall Street group too – then it won’t be seen as a cause by outsiders.

    Saying you want to change politics is fine, but you need some examples of how to achieve that outcome. Stamp your feet and the only sure change will be that you’ll get sore feet. Aspirations need backed with at least some tangible ideas to move from anger to change.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Ignore relative austerity, absolute austerity and poverty are a possibility for many who are living anything including and below higher middle class lives now, once the majority become impoverished, we should shut down all banks when people have nothing to save but their children. I’m sure all the intellectuals will be preaching “Malthus was right” but hoarded anarchism like this will inevitably become the future and it will become violent.

    And forget about fusion power, it will be developed in the sub-continent long before the Western World gets a hold of it. There is a confusion that greed and ambition are the same thing, that investing in renewable energy, recycling, modernisation has the like for like social value of investing in a major Hollywood Blockbuster at the same market price, while the latter generates more “profit”.

    The problem perhaps is freedom, people willing to accept less in order to work for more and the extreme left know that. Ultimately human nature will endure these hard times, they will except that a useful serf is better than being a useless prolate.

  • FuturePhysicist

    FuturePhysicist – it’s not ridiculous in my eyes. If a cause can’t be articulated – and it’s a criticism against the Occupy Wall Street group too – then it won’t be seen as a cause by outsiders.

    Saying you want to change politics is fine, but you need some examples of how to achieve that outcome. Stamp your feet and the only sure change will be that you’ll get sore feet. Aspirations need backed with at least some tangible ideas to move from anger to change

    I think you’re out of order a little.

    Firstly, I think for one thing the id can achieve things the ego cannot. This is the reason we have “banksters” and young people robbing pensioners … they don’t have a tangible rational idea, they do what they want to appease themselves or “heal their hurts”.

    There is no sense of grace or modesty allowed, encouraged or admired.

    Protest at the end of the day is more rational than crime, it ensures a little ego tempers the extremes of the id.

    They will be going through hardships, we cannot even imagine, at the very least they deserve our sympathy, is that really too much to ask?

  • Then they need to change the strapline on the poster from ‘If you want political change …’ to say ‘If you want to protest about the way things are and hope someone else notices and comes up with a workable solution …’

  • FuturePhysicist

    It’s funny, the twenty under generation have to solve the problems of the last generation and are accused of not having workable or tangible solutions.

    It’s an inherited trait.

  • @Turgon: thanks, I thought I had messed up something there.

    You say protests turn not infrequently to violence. However to make a very big assumption, I would say that the majority of protests by political groups, activist groups and pressure groups throughout the UK and Ireland on an annual basis are in fact entirely peaceful, particularly when they are in the name of valid causes.

  • @FuturePhysicist: There is nothing that winds me up more than that line. Of course our generation does not have the answers to potentially the greatest financial crisis in modern times and of course we are going to get pissed off, angry and shout about it. We do know that something has gone very wrong and the way in which financial markets are managed/regulated and policy is implemented across our nations and the world needs to change. Unfortunately, just like Gordon Brown, George Bush, Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel etc. etc., we do not know how to turn things around. Shame on us!

  • FuturePhysicist

    I also think its ridiculous to simply say that there is no cause because it’s not articulated well or tangible. Indeed it’s astonishing to believe that comand of the English language, even in a highly frustrated emotional state will acheive anything better than stamping feet.

    This delusion was created by a market falacy where a swamped consumer market than encouraged hedonism, obesity, sexual promiscuity, drug addiction, alcoholism, debt and other traits of overconsumption thought they could get anything they asked for politely or willing to pay for, or at least be shown the pathway. These problems are considered tangible because there was a materialistic solution to every one of them but we don’t face up the intangible ones like hunger, unemployment, denial.

    There was a Dickensian reference earlier, but I will do one for my own “Please Sir, could I have some more?” and babyish footstamping are equally futile now.

  • That’s sorted – we’re all agreed that there’s an element of ridiculousness to this debate. Phew.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Alan, like it or not you posted this up for attention and you got it. These people, and in all likelyhood there will be more than one are only doing the same.

    Whatever judgement you pass on these people, just remember you’ve simply highlighted their action and their cause. Their cause of ending corporate greed may certainly be idealistic, impractical, intangibly impossible and irksome to many (as is the hit and hope aspirations of many western democracies in my opinion), but thanks to you their cause isn’t as invisible as you make it out to be.

  • slanghammer

    While the cause may appear idealistic obtuse and unobtainable, I do believe it is very well thought out.
    People are at the moment unsure of tomorrow,,, The only difference in main Government party’s is that of name.
    The structure of currency at present is nothing more than paper chopped up and printed by private companies and they are paid ongoing interest on the “stated capital amount of printed paper produced” The people are held to ransom, because of the “ongoing interest said due to these private companies” But this “Debt” cannot ever be paid, this Debt is an illusion, con-artist trickery. There is never the currency to pay the interest on the capital amount. The cause of the Occupy protests runs deep the picture is large,,, it includes, food being nutritionally destroyed by ion irradiation, control of seed via GM eg, Monsanto, The manipulation of markets and energy prices. Corporation owning government. Right down to local politicians having builders that will hand them thousands for the mere asking. Corruption is Corruption irrespective of the given story. Austerity will not relieve this one bit. I think they have been very clever, in not restricting the issue it will give people a means to object to the issue as they see it, from their perspective. It will get people to question and educate themselves. We all get little bits of the picture but no one gets it all. Note this issue while it is spreading globally it has received very little media coverage.
    We should be celebrating America’s revolt, it’s about people acting together as a whole. What will it take to get you on the street,,,, no money, or no food on the table? While you sit on your ass you should be ashamed that a 13 year old has the balls act where you do not! Perhaps it’s called cognitive dissonance.

  • Alan I’m guessing you never go diving onto the “Deep Web” but if you did you would see it is hiving with this sort of thing and it is extremely well thought out.

    Okay this is a thirteen year old but this kid didn’t start this and he sure as hell isn’t the brains behind the occupy movement worldwide… hats off to him

  • youngpolitico – I agree – hat’s off to the Occupy Belfast agitators. In some ways, I only mentioned Liam’s age because it was significant that someone so young had decided to do something.

    But I stand by my opinion that the Occupy Belfast message is fuzzy – corporate greed and economic disparity, followed by a call for political change (rather than economic change) … and stand by the prediction that it’ll be a small event (this Saturday 15th at 2pm)

  • feardorcha

    Wasn’t sure what to make of the idea at first.

    I envisaged a bunch of idealists having a wee gathering and a bit of a rant but achieving nothing.

    Seeking further information I tried to search for the term on the BBC NI website. (This has been the homepage on my browser for a few years now). Quite sinister how such a search of the BBC site fails to provide a single result. How can such a huge broadcaster completely ignore what is at the very least an important and viable issue for many.

    Then I learned of ofcom’s ruling regarding Press TV. How typical of ofcom to ban the Iranian broadcaster from our airwaves, lest we be exposed to alternative views or opinions from an outside source, or, god forbid, we begin to think for ourselves by being exposed to information not vetted and censored by the state. The same state that treats us all with so much contempt. We are being ‘governed’ by a bunch of vile, corrupt, self serving corporate puppets with immoral connections to the police, media and banks.

    Now that government, when it’s dirty little secrets are exposed, arrogantly spins reports to excuse or disguise it’s own corruption. The Iris Robinson/Deloitte whitewash, Chris Huhne, Liam Fox, just the tip of the iceberg but serving to exemplify the arrogant and contemptuous manner with which these pompous crooks continue to treat the electorate whilst defrauding and robbing the taxpayer to line the pockets of their own ‘old-boys’ networks.

    I may be just a solitary person whose actions may have little effect on the outside world, but from today I will never again sully my computer with any BBC content. My homepage has been reset to Press TV, for a different point of view to the brainwashing Beeb.

    …Oh and in an 45 minutes time I shall be proud to add my number to the crowd at City Hall.

  • orly

    A few hundred mopers in Belfast? The whole “cause” here is to see if they can actually get anyone to show up at a “protest” where they’ll shout a bit then go home.

    It’ll change a lot…

  • vanhelsing

    “No I am Spartacus”

  • Erudite Celt

    I don’t know were this young guy got his poster idea but the Occupy Wall Street campaign and it’s western similes have nothing to do with the Arab Spring movement. That said I totally agree that the distribution of wealth in the world will be it’s downfall.When one considers that 1% of Americans hold
    74 – 76 % of the countries wealth it soon becomes very apparent that something is ethically and morally wrong!
    In the UK 84 % of the countries wealth is held by 4 % of the population.When you realise that as the number of Billionaires increase every year so do the numbers of those who fall beneath the poverty line.This is not a coincidence it is demonstrably a case of cause and effect. What is better for society one billionaire who buy’s maybe two or three big homes and a dozen sports cars or a thousand millionaires who buy two homes and a couple of sports cars?
    Do the math.

  • Rory Carr

    …and how about a few million working stiffs who could afford a modest home and a economical car and maybe food and clothing for his/her children (and a bone for the dog).

  • Erudite Celt

    I agree Rory, but I was rather expecting some prick to call me a communist if I suggested giving 20,000 working class people £50,000 each to pay of their mortgages buy a new Fiesta with.
    But the fact is that there is enough wealth in the UK to make every man woman and child a Millionaire and there would still be Billionaires! Totally Sick…