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Irish police clear Occupy camp for St Patrick's day

Occupy Wall Street protest in Ireland is cleared by police in an attempt to vacate the site for national holiday

Reuters , Thursday 8 Mar 2012

Police cleared an anti-capitalist protest camp inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement from outside Ireland's central bank on Thursday after organisers refused a request to vacate the site for the annual Saint Patrick's Day parade.

Around 100 police sealed off part of central Dublin in the early morning hours and removed 15 protesters from the Occupy Dame Street camp, which has been on the plaza in front of the Central Bank since October, police said.

Several large tents, wooden shacks and a kitchen were removed and the area was hosed down. Protesters said police began pulling apart their shacks while they were still sleeping.

"We asked them to leave when we got there...those who didn't we had to physically remove from the area," a police spokesman said.

One arrest was made for a public order offence after the camp had been cleared, he said.

The site could have caused public safety problems for the St Patrick's Day parade, which passes close to the site on 17 March, he said. A festival associated with the parade attracts large numbers of foreign tourists.

Ireland has seen relatively little protest since its economy collapsed in 2007, sparking a series of harsh austerity budgets and a humiliating bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Occupants at the urban camp were protesting against Ireland's decision to pay off the debt of its banking institutions and called on the government to take back economic sovereignty ceded to the EU and IMF.

The camp was backed by some left-wing groups but did not enjoy much popular support.

"We're not going to go away, we're in it for the long haul," said Jim Mclean, aged 33, one of the 15 protesters. "They (the government) are embarrassed because we're highlighting issues they're not dealing with."

Police and bailiffs cleared an anti-capitalist camp from outside St Paul's cathedral in London last week in a largely peaceful action. Authorities in some North American cities have used violence to forcibly remove similar camps.

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