Occupy Belfast – a (small) protest about housing

Gerry Lynch mentioned Occupy Belfast in a post yesterday. I called past the front of Belfast City Hall just before 1pm today to see the latest in their series of Saturday afternoon protests. I started asking people who were sitting or standing around the railings if they knew there was going to be a protest, or had heard about Occupy Belfast and what they stood for.

There was a mixed reaction, with quite a few people aware of the tents in Writers Square opposite St Anne’s Cathedral, but relatively few able to explain what their protest was about. The panoramic photo below shows the scene in front of the City Hall just after one o’clock.

About five past one, ten or so ‘Occupiers’ arrived. Over the next thirty minutes, numbers grew to twenty five at the most. This week’s theme was to highlight housing issues including evictions, repossessions and empty houses that could be used for the homeless.

A couple of people recounted last Saturday’s Occupy Belfast protest which ended up inside Boots to complain about tax avoidance and the offshore headquartering of this company. (Link to their Youtube video of the Boots protest)

The prayer ministry team – teenagers who’d travelled up to Belfast – were thinking about whether to offer pray for the protesters or the people requiring financial support. With more people stopping to talk to the prayer team than the protesters, Occupy Belfast’s Saturday meet-ups – while highlighting valid issues – are likely to remain fairly low key.

UpdateGerry Lynch has great coverage on the Sammy Morse blog of Occupy Belfast’s well-organised-but-obviously-secretive move to squat in and occupy the old Belfast Stock Exchange, also a previous Bank of Ireland building.

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