Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Cathedral protest 'a tourist draw'

The Occupy the London Stock Exchange demonstration outside St Paul's Cathedral
Protesters taking part in the Occupy the London Stock Exchange demonstration set up tents at a new overspill camp in Finsbury Square
St. Paul's Cathedral has closed it's doors to the public because of Occupy London Stock Exchange protesters camped outside

Anti-capitalist protesters camped in front of St Paul's Cathedral have claimed they have become a tourist attraction which is helping businesses around the church boom.

As the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp entered its second week with hundreds still bedded in at St Paul's Churchyard, protesters continued to deny they are responsible for the cathedral's closure "until further notice" last Friday.

The decision to close, which the Dean of St Paul's Reverend Graeme Knowles referred to as "unprecedented in modern times", was taken by the cathedral after independent health, safety and fire officers reported the camp posed a fire hazard and threatened public health.

But protesters said that far from posing a health and safety risk, they have now become an attraction for tour groups and families visiting London in half-term.

Ronan McNern, an Occupy London Stock Exchange spokesman who has been at the protest since its first day, said: "We have done so much to ensure that St Paul's can remain open.

"It was the cathedral's decision to close, supposedly for health and safety reasons, but the rest of the restaurants and cafes around the square are doing a booming trade and have no health and safety issues.

"It's great to see tourists taking an interest, and hopefully that will help us get the dialogue we want so we can change the current situation."

John McKenna, a 52-year-old maintenance engineer, fitted in a visit on a four-day holiday from the Lake District. The protest helped fill time before he, his wife and children could use an off-peak ticket to catch the Tube.

Mr McKenna said the protesters had his support, adding: "There's a more socialist way of sharing the money out. The people who want to get on can make their millions so long as they give us some of it."

Ann Seltzer, a 63-year-old dental assistant from Terre Haute, Indiana, US, took a break from visiting her relatives to see the protest, said: "Back home I have a few people in my church who are supporting Occupy Wall Street, so we understand these people's plight."

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz