Behind the News: Ciaran Carr, anti-austerity protester

Ciaran Carr is one of six anti-austerity activists who staged a sit-down protest at the Central Revenue Information Office in Dublin this week

Photograph: JH Photography

Photograph: JH Photography

Sat, Apr 5, 2014, 01:00

The Central Revenue Information Office, off O’Connell Street in Dublin, closed briefly on Monday when half a dozen anti-austerity activists occupied it. Ciaran Carr planned the protest.

“It showed what just six people can do. We just sat down on the floor. We were never asked to leave. The security guard told me the building was closed for health-and-safety concerns,” says Carr, who is in his 20s.

He got involved in activism after seeing Free Marian Price graffiti in Belfast about 18 months ago. “I started going on the Free Marian Price marches once a month in Dublin. That got me interested in Irish republicanism and the ideologies of James Connolly and Pádraig Pearse. I was never interested in politics before then.”

Carr later joined campaigns against home and water taxes, and took part in demonstrations in north Dublin and marches in the city centre. “I thought about joining a political party” – he was approached by the United Left Alliance – “but I didn’t want to sign up to a particular ideology.”

His main involvement in activism is the weekly anti-austerity march from the Central Bank of Ireland to the Garden of Remembrance and back to the GPO. “It’s a family-friendly march, with men and women of all ages, people with disabilities, people with buggies. We march under the banners ‘Dublin Says No to Austerity and Property Tax’ and ‘Anti-Eviction Ireland.’ ”

These weekly marches started on Easter Sunday last year and have continued. “There are between 20 and 100 people on them. Everyone is genuine, and we don’t allow any political banners.”

Carr says human rights and equal rights are what make him passionate about activism. “There are 4,000 people homeless in Dublin, high rates of suicide, children whose medical cards have been taken away from them and organisations, like Teenline, who have had their funding cut. The more you look at it the deeper it gets. The current political system is completely corrupt.”

Carr, who is originally from Malahide, in north Co Dublin, and now lives in Finglas, left school in fifth year for mental-health reasons. He has worked as a chef, and with children and adults with special needs, but he doesn’t currently have a job.

“I go to Irish-history lectures in Trinity College, and I keep myself busy reading, playing music, going to the gym and meeting friends, but I suffer from anxiety, so I can’t work at the moment.”

He says that he is the first in his family to take an interest in activism and politics, and that he has never been arrested or victimised for his activism and is not interested in violent protest.

“Marching down O’Connell Street, doing our Dublin Says No to Austerity and Property Tax chants, is a big confidence booster for me. Before I got involved in activism I was very quiet and shy. Activism is empowering for me.”

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