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Dublin: 3°C Saturday 27 November 2021

This town will say "No" for the 250th week running today

“It’s not a milestone we ever wanted to mark, I assure you.”

Diarmuid O'Flynn (centre)
Diarmuid O'Flynn (centre)

OVER FOUR AND a half years have passed since Ballyhea, a small town in Cork, became a microcosm of Irish politics.

A backlash against the bailout was seemingly focused on one group of angry Rebels, who embarked on a Sisyphean crusade, marching through their town every week since.

Today marks the 250th such Ballyhea Says No march and Diarmuid O’Flynn, the man who organised the first one says they have no plans to stop.

It’s not a milestone we ever wanted to mark, I assure you.

“But we have made huge strides in the last year.”

These huge strides include O’Flynn coming close to being elected to the European Parliament in 2014. Now, he says, politicians are far more attuned to the cause.

However, with the prevailing political narrative one of recovery, would O’Flynn and his group not just stop?

“Nobody wants to see a recovery more than ourselves. But we’ve lost people in this town to emigration and suicide.

“We’re marching because of the imposition of bank debt on the Irish people which should never have been done.

The wrong doesn’t become a right because other circumstances change.

PastedImage-9215 The Ballyhea Says No delegation at the European Parliament this year.

O’Flynn says that he had never been political until the final days of the Fianna Fáil/Green coalition, when he began writing letters to politicians. After that, he was hopeful.

“I had never been involved in anything political before. I was just trying to keep a roof over my family. But the banks got a bailout and we got no bailout.

At the time, North Africa was in flames, so I decided to march. I was tired of complaining in pubs and coffee shops.

“I had great hope for the Fine Gael/Labour government but within days, I heard Enda Kenny on the radio and knew nothing would be done.

“This government was elected on the basis that they would take the fight to Europe, but they brought Europe’s fight to us.”

O’Flynn cuts a determined figure, one not ready to quit. He rails at the ongoing sale of bonds to fund the IBRC promissory note deal and of paying the interest on those bonds.

He wants to talk to people, to get them to understand that he’s not just an outsider railing at the system for the sake of it. Running as an Independent Alliance in Cork North West, O’Flynn says he has been supported widely.

There’s about 1,000 people in the parish, over a quarter have marched with us. Some people come, some go. Of the 14 who were there on the first day, there is almost everyone still there.

“Almost without exception, people on the doorsteps support us.

“None of what we’re doing is based on hope, we’re just determined. Until we get what we’re looking for, we are not going to stop.”

Read: Ballyhea protestors in Brussels to meet MEPs from economics committee

Read: Pictures: Ballyhea bondholder bailout protesters reach Dublin

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