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"Standing and reading gave me a sense of empowerment over what is happening in our country"

A group of protesters staged a series of peaceful, silent demonstrations outside the gates of the Dáil in the weeks leading up to its summer break – each member reading a book chosen to “send a message”. Some of them have been sharing their choices with TheJournal.ie…

INSPIRED BY EVENTS in Turkey, the Irish Standing Protest began at the start of July, in the wake of the release of the Anglo Tapes and the subsequent public outrage at their contents. The idea was simple, if new to Ireland: “Bring a book, and send a silent message”.

Those taking part staged a protest once a week outside the gates of Leinster House until the Oireachtas rose for its summer recess. However, according to Carrie McIntyre, one of the campaign’s organisers, there are plans to begin the demonstrations again soon – potentially at other locations. She tells TheJournal.ie:

“One of the inspiring things about the standing protest, which I think has captured many people’s imaginations, is that it is an individual protest. It has made an impact on the collective imagination.

Turnout was good, in that many of the people who stood had never been to a protest before, and it was not a protest organised by any group or party. I think that is what attracted people, I know it certainly attracted me, that it was an individual act of protest.

The choice of books was wide-ranging – with participants selecting works encompassing everything from Irish history, to America’s position in the world, and even marathon running…

Carrie McIntyre, Meath

“Rights of Man” by Thomas Paine


I went back to basics with the book I have been reading during the standing protests. It has been a book whose ideas have influenced my political outlook in that it would have previously influenced and perhaps been a foundation for those whose thinking and questioning have inspired me, but not something I have ever read myself in its entirety. So I thought it would be a good book to educate myself with, and to symbolize an informed citizenry capable of critical thinking.

What surprised me, and I what I have found myself loving about the book, is that even 222 years after its initial publication, Paine’s observations are still hotly relevant and applicable to current politics. I expected the ideas to of course be relevant in a way that underpins democratic thought, but not to be so strongly contemporary. I also loved how bitchy Paine is about Burke. He does not resist getting his jabs in when the opportunity presents itself!

Sarah Goforth, 31. Raheny, north Dublin

“Ireland – Awakening” by Edward Rutherford

Standing and reading as a form of protest for me was inspired by The Turkish standing man in Istanbul. ‘Irish people are fierce and proud’ and ‘Irish people need to wake up’ are both things I hear a lot, so I chose this book because I wanted to start at the beginning. I am in this for the long haul. I needed to know more about what drove us to rise before, and what worked. The most inspiring thing in ‘Ireland Awakening’ was a part about Daniel O’Connell speaking to hundreds of thousands in peaceful meetings.

As a first time protester, standing and reading gave me a sense of empowerment over what is happening in our country. It was dignified, and we were hard to ignore staring down each member of the government passing us on their way home. Nearly everyone there was a first time protester. Standing our ground is a peaceful, persistent and basic participation in democracy. It can persist beyond flash-in-the-pan angry protests, while multiplying and creating connections between different groups, with minimal room for conflict.

Niall Dennehy, 33. Business analyst from Cork, living in Dublin

“Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall

This was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek selection by me, and it was primarily aimed at our very own star “runner” David Drumm – who refuses to return to the country to cooperate with the authorities and the Irish public. The book talks about a tribe of Mexican people called the ‘Tarahumara’, and mentions the following: “For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it”.

It is my hope that this will be symbolic of the Irish people out there, like myself, who I hope will have the stamina, endurance and courage to change this country for the better, and chase down those who have tried to damage it. Finally, there is a link (albeit tenuous) between the title and a famous song written by “The Boss” about being born in the country that Drumm now resides in!

Ella Clarke, 39. Dance artist from Bohermeen, Co. Meath

“What We Say Goes” by Noam Chomsky

I chose Noam Chomsky’s “What We Say Goes” because I feel it reflects in its author, title and content, my position as a critic of the Government’s continued and unabated abuse of Irish Citizen’s finances, constitutional and legislative rights, safety, freedom and future. It’s a flag which effectively conveys the arena of my intentions when I stand in active silence and opposition. I will choose other titles and authors in the future in demonstration of the fact that I am educating myself, which to me is a foundational act of defiance in this situation.

Dan O’Neill, 27. Human rights activist from Donnybrook

“Why it’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere” by Paul Mason

From the barrios of Venezuela to the favelas of Brazil; the squares of Egypt to the streets of Quebec, Turkey and Chile; normal people have been demanding that their voices are listened in the face of policies pushed by those with wealth and power which are making our globe a more unequal and unfair place to live.

This book charts the story of some of the activists around the world trying to challenge this growing inequality and I wanted to stand in solidarity with them. It’s a simple gesture but I felt I had to do something.

Read: “Bring a book, send a silent message…” The standing people protest comes to Dublin >

President Higgins: Anglo Tapes “are not the voices of the people of Ireland” >

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