Anti-austerity march organisers call for protest outside Dáil on budget day
The organisers of Saturday’s anti-austerity march in Dublin have called for a similar gathering outside the Dáil on budget day, December 5th.
Marchers began to assemble around the Garden of Remembrance from midday on Saturday with a Garda spokeswoman saying the demonstration was 10,000-strong at its height. However, the protest-march organisers put the figure at about twice that number.
The demonstrators were led by a young woman wearing a white mask and riding a dark horse with a banner reading “No to austerity” draped around it. Road closures were in place in the city centre as the march made its way from Parnell Square, through O’Connell Street, on to d’Olier Street, before returning to O’Connell Street where speeches took place outside the GPO.
Michael O’Reilly, president of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, which co-organised the gathering, said it was just one step in a long campaign to reverse cutbacks.
“The evidence is clear – you cannot cut your way out of a recession,” he told protesters.
“On the contrary. With each cut in public spending, and with each euro taken out of the pockets of low and average earners in new or increased taxes, we are digging ourselves further into a hole.”
The march – organised by the Campaign Against Household and Water Charges, the Dublin Council of Trade Unions and supported by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu), Siptu and other trade unions – was joined by members of People Before Profit alliance, Sinn Féin and the Socialist Party and organisations including the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed.
The march was also supported by regional groups, among them groups from Monaghan, Donegal, Waterford, Kilkenny and Cork, which are variously opposed to the household tax, water charges and the septic tank charge.
Seán Walsh, part of a group from Portlaw in Co Waterford which is opposing the household charge, said he was “very encouraged” by the turnout.
“The effect is that it’s slowly tripping the country, slowly but surely and slowly affecting all business. In the rural areas the shopkeepers and publicans and so forth, they are slowly being put out of business and slowly being ground to a halt. It’s a simple message: austerity is not working and we must fight it and we must get the message across to the Government,” he said.
As Ictu president Eugene McGlone was introduced to the crowd he was greeted by a chorus of boos and shouts of “strike”.
Siptu president Jack O’Connor later condemned the behaviour of what he said was a small minority which represented “a sinister trend which has developed over the recent past and that bears all the hallmarks of fascism”.
He said he had witnessed a number of people carrying Sinn Féin banners accompanied by others carrying United Left Alliance posters participating in this behaviour and would be requesting that the general secretary of congress speak with the leadership of both parties.
“I want to make it very clear that I am not alleging that either of the organisations approved of, or condoned, fascist activity of this kind. But the fact of the matter is that is being carried on by people who are either associated with their organisations or elements who are very deliberately masquerading as such for reasons best known to themselves.