‘This isn’t the right place for you to be’

occupymi'Poverty campaigners 'Occupy Sheffield' have camped outside Sheffield Cathedral.
occupymi'Poverty campaigners 'Occupy Sheffield' have camped outside Sheffield Cathedral.
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Dean formally asks Occupy protesters to leave cathedral

SHEFFIELD Cathedral’s clergy have written to formally ask anti-capitalist protesters to leave their forecourt - saying their financial and human resources are being stretched to the limit.

But Occupy Sheffield insist they still have no immediate plans to end their protest.

Cathedral Dean, Very Reverend Peter Bradley, said parishioners were deeply distressed by an incident on Sunday when one of the campaigners entered the service to shout ‘profane and threatening obscenities’ during his sermon.

He wrote: “The incident shows that you are neither competent nor capable of fulfilling your stated commitment to allow the Cathedral to continue its work uninterrupted, nor of ensuring that the protest is respectful of people’s right to worship without being interrupted or intimidated.”

The Dean agreed that there was a need for many of the issues raised by Occupy Sheffield to be heard more widely.

But he added: “I have also consistently stated that the Cathedral forecourt is not the right place for you to be. The cathedral’s financial and human resources are being stretched to the limit by the need to manage what has become a very complex situation, and my colleagues are under considerable stress.”

A spokeswoman for Occupy Sheffield said the Dean was ‘understandably’ upset by Sunday’s incident.

“This was a regrettable incident, and we are calling on all parties to dig deep and show compassion towards an individual who is clearly unwell. This person is no longer part of Occupy Sheffield, having repeatedly breached our guidelines,” she said.

“The goal of Occupy Sheffield is not to criticise the cathedral - it is to raise awareness of the corrupting effects of money in politics and to bring to public awareness the facts about our current economic situation.”

The spokeswoman said they believed there is a huge amount of common ground between the two parties.

“As the world, the country and the city of Sheffield stands at a crossroads, a unity of purpose expressed by both the occupation and the ecumenical community of Sheffield can be a powerful beacon of hope at a time of need,” she added.

Meanwhile, a 600-strong petition supporting the aims of Occupy Sheffield, and asking the council to support its right to protest, was presented to full council by camp member and Sheffield Hallam University employee Tom Redfearn.

Several questions about the protest were also asked by a packed public gallery.

Sheffield Council leader, Coun Julie Dore, responding to the petition, said she admired the ‘bravery and courage of people that stand up and protest’.

But she added: “The place that you’ve chosen to hold that protest is impacting on the people that you’re out to protect. You’ve got to get together with the church and the Dean and work out a way forward.”

An motion initially proposed by Green councillors to ‘congratulate’ the protesters was amended, with councillors instead calling for the church and Occupy to work together to reach a mutual solution.