Thousands expected at Ictu marches
Ictu general secretary David Begg said Thursday's ECB deal was a 'car-jack under one corner of this huge weight of debt'. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Trade union leaders are urging members to march in their tens of thousands tomorrow against austerity and calling for a lifting of the national burden, despite Thursday’s bank debt deal.
There will be six marches starting at 1.30pm in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford, organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions
Some groups taking part in the demonstrations have described the Ictu events as “tokenistic” saying the people need to “hear some real leadership from the trade union movement on how it’s going to fight austerity”.
Ictu general secretary David Begg said although the bank debt deal, which will reduce the country’s borrowing needs by €20 billion in the coming decade, was a “positive step”, it was but a “car-jack under one corner of this huge weight of debt”.
What was needed was “an enormous crane to lift it off us”, he added.
Mr Begg called on the EU to honour a European Council commitment made last June that the European Stability Mechanism could be used to recapitalise banks.
It would be the worst outcome possible if people believed the Thursday deal meant Ireland was on the road to recovery and stopped fighting for further improvements, he added, calling on people to join the marches where families would be welcome.
An Ictu spokesman said although a “broad spectrum” of groups would be at the events there would be only trade union speakers.
The hosts will be hoping there is not a repetition of the scenes at last November’s anti-austerity march organised by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions when Congress President Eugene McGlone was booed and heckled with calls for a general strike.
The marches are likely to be tightly marshalled and will feature live music and comedians rather than a long programme of speakers.
Among the “top acts” confirmed to entertain at Dublin’s Merrion Square will be comedian Barry Murphy, singer Mundy, Finglas rapper MissElayneous and punk poet Jinx Lennon.
Among those also taking part in the marches will be the Campaign Against the Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT) as well as other left groups including People Before Profit, the United Left Alliance (ULA), Sinn Féin and the Socialist Party, all of who call on Ictu to intensify its fight against austerity and advocate walking away from the bank debt.
ULA TD Clare Daly said Ictu was “certainly not going far enough” in leading a campaign against austerity.
“The dominant theme at meetings all over the country has been how utterly dispiriting and weak the unions have been in all this. The feeling is these marches are tokenistic, a march to the top of the hill and back again.”
She said the ULA was mobilising behind the demonstrations but added she would be “shocked” if there was not heckling and disquiet expressed at the union leadership.
People Before Profit and ULA TD Richard Boyd Barrett said people “have to hear a clear plan and strategy from Ictu as to how they are going to lead an escalation of resistance. We have not had that yet.”
Socialist Party councillor Ruth Coppinger and spokeswoman for the CAHWT said members would be seeking support from Ictu tomorrow for their campaign.