Four people, two dogs, one message: no to austerity
Anti-austerity protesters begin 200km trek from Limerick to Dublin
Zinaida Nourreddaie, Pat Hannon, Martin Critten and Peter O’Loughlin. Photograph: Don Moloney/Press 22
There may be only four of them – along with two dogs – but the members of Slí Níos Fearr (A Better Way) setting off on the 200km walk from Limerick to Dublin are hopeful of support for their anti-austerity protest.
Armed with walking sticks, waterproof clothes and leaflets, they intend to get their message out to towns along the way in a bid to attract support to run candidates in next year’s local and European elections.
The group was started a year ago by north of England native Martin Critten who says he was angry at Government mismanagement. It was then the west Limerick-based 55-year-old set off on his first walk to Dublin. “I had never protested before but for me it was a moral thing; I felt there had to be an alternative,” he said, setting out on the eight-day trek to Dublin yesterday from a wet and windy Limerick.
His anger centres on Ministers favouring their constituencies over the national good, the Cabinet’s high salaries, nepotism whereby Dáil seats are “passed down” through families, the household charge and broken election manifestos.
The group’s aim is to get people elected who could change that.
Peter O’Loughlin, one of the walkers, could be one of them. The final-year Cork student at Limerick’s Mary Immaculate College, wants to run for a seat in the European Parliament if the funding can be found. “You have to prove you have staying power because there are micro-parties popping up everywhere. But there is a lot of disillusionment out there and we all have a duty to change things.”
The group has drawn up a “citizen’s charter” on how to reform the political landscape. Among other plans, it calls for a non-political Seanad to be directly elected.