Occupy Galway not breaking the law, says Garda


GARDAÍ HAVE said they have no legal basis to take action against Occupy Galway, which is now the last remaining anti-globalisation camp on the island.

The camp, which was established last October, has planned its own festivities for today’s national holiday, having rejected an appeal by Galway City Council to leave its location in Eyre Square.

Former mayor and Fine Gael councillor Pádraig Conneely has said he will not attend the St Patrick’s Day parade viewing stand in the square in protest at the failure of the authorities to take action.

“I will attend the parade as a member of the public, but I will not sit on a viewing stand overlooking what I believe is a shanty town,” Mr Conneely said. “If I parked my car in that location it would be clamped, and if Travellers moved in there they’d be moved on within a day,” he said.

Mr Conneely said he believed the Garda had discretionary powers under the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act to take action, but a Garda spokesman said yesterday that such powers were not appropriate for this situation.

On March 8th, a letter from Galway City Council warned of “appropriate legal action” if the camp did not comply with a request to move, and it cited “serious health and safety concerns”. Gardaí in Dublin had at that stage demolished the Occupy Dame Street camp – in the early hours of March 8th.

However, Occupy Galway responded that the camp was on public property, and it had requested a health and safety inspection which was carried out on February 14th – with no follow-up by the council.