Hundreds of people took to the streets of several Irish cities over the weekend protesting over the cost-of-living crisis and calling for more State supports in the face of soaring inflation.
Demonstrations were organised by the Cost of Living Coalition in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Sligo on Saturday afternoon.
A similar protest was held in Belfast on Saturday calling for supports to help people struggling to meet household costs and also for the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive to be restored without delay.
Several hundred people gathered by the Garden of Remembrance for the Dublin march before making their way down O’Connell Street chanting “prices are rising, so are we”. Hundreds more gathered in Cork and made their way through the city centre calling for change and support.
The coalition behind the marches is made up of trade unionists, student and pensioner organisations and Opposition political parties. Speakers at the Dublin protest included Fr Peter McVerry, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, chief executive of the Senior Citizens Parliament Sue Shaw, Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins, Beth O’Reilly from the Union of Students in Ireland, and People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett.
The Government has so far resisted calls for a so-called “mini budget” in advance of the autumn to roll out further measures. However, it has rejected claims that it has been slow to act on the issue, pointing out that the steps it has taken to tackle cost-of-living pressures since last October add up to €2.5 billion.
Ms McDonald said: “People are suffering now, we need a response from Government now, we need an emergency budget now.”
Mr Boyd Barrett called for an increase in people’s wages and pensions to meet the “spiralling cost of living”.
Fr Peter McVerry told the crowd that young people do not want to stay in Ireland because of the excessive cost of living and rent.
“I am in despair. We have had a housing crisis for several decades and it’s simply getting worse,” he said.
Separately, more than 500 people attended the protest in Cork city where Solidarity Party TD Mick Barry was among those to address the crowd.
Government action would depend “on how much pressure they feel from below from ordinary people”, he said. “They said they couldn’t scrap the water charges and we built a massive movement of water charges and we forced them to scrap them. Same thing needs to be done in relation to cost of living now.”
Cork North Central Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said: “What we are hearing from the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar is to wait for the budget in October. I am telling you now the pensioners can’t wait until October.”
Dublin march co-ordinator Eddie Conlon said the latest research, along with the breakdown of public sector pay talks, showed the cost-of-living crisis was “deepening” and that things would only get worse as prices continue to rise.
“Urgent action is needed. Next October will be too late for many households as they slide further and further into financial distress,” he said.