Occupation of former bank building in Belfast


The liberation of the former Bank of Ireland building in Belfast city centre by “Occupy” provides a glimpse of what is possible if we organise and fight together using the power of direct action and solidarity. It is about sending out a political message to our local green and orange tories that enough is enough and it is up to us as working class people to take action and organise a fightback because no politician will do it for us.

As a statement read out by the occupiers makes clear, the liberation of this building is not just a protest but demonstrates clear intent to begin the process of helping to build a mass campaign against house evictions and savage cuts to jobs and services being imposed from London and their local lackeys at Stormont:

‘We are not here today to plead for crumbs from the tables of the rich. We are here today to demand and to create a world where the interest of the many comes before the interests of the few…. We are ordinary people who can no longer stand by while our futures are stolen from us, while house repossessions sky-rocket, while the chance of ever finding a job dissipates, while higher education becomes the preserve of the rich. We are people who still have hope… But when we hope, we do not do it blindly. We know that a new society can only be created if we do it ourselves, if we take back what belongs to all of us. Take buildings like this one and put it into the hands of the public. By creating new social centres, by stopping house evictions, by taking over the assets of the speculators and making them into assets of the people, assets of the whole community.’ 

Over a month on, the iconic and historic building has moved from being at the disposal of greedy property developers to providing a colourful space to organise meetings and educate, with a library, and provide temporary shelter for homeless people. In the long term, we aim to open it up to the wider public and establish a vibrant social centre at the heart of Belfast.

Fourteen years on from the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, which has served to copper fasten and manage sectarianism, little has changed on the ground in our communities. Unemployment levels have now increased to pre-ceasefire levels and parts of the North have some of the highest levels of poverty and social deprivation in the UK. The alternative to the Stormont charade is to build a militant movement which will not only resist the cut backs but go on the offensive. The WSM is committed to this task across Ireland, both North and South.

Written by WSM member who has been active Occupy Belfast and the liberation of the building.

For more info on the occupation including a video and interview with a WSM member check out this link:  http://www.channel4.com/news/an-occupy-protest-with-a-difference

Alternatively keep up to date with the Occupy Belfast from its facebook page and twitter.

This article is from Workers Solidarity 126, March 2012