Frontline workers hold protest


Frontline public servant workers have begun a march through Dublin in protest at Government proposals to reduce pay levels.

An estimated 3,500 off-duty gardaí, nurses, firefighters and prison officers are participating in the march, far more than originally anticipated according to gardaí.

The march left Parnell Square at 2.30pm and will progress to Molesworth Street where there will be a short rally.

Des Kavanagh, the chairman of the new 24/7 Frontline Services Alliance, which comprises unions and associations representing public servants who provide round-the-clock services, said the organisers would also be handing in a letter to the office of Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan.

Mr Kavanagh said the letter would express the concern of the alliance in relation to policies outlined to date and the thinking that influences the Government.

He said that it would also set out the important role that its members provided to the community on behalf of the State.

The alliance is particularly concerned at suggestions in the recent McCarthy report that allowances, overtime and premium pay, which make up a large proportion of their members’ overall earnings, should be cut back.

Mr Kavanagh said gardaí were not in a position to march in uniform but would carry insignia to indicate they were members of the Garda Representative Association or the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.

He added that members of the alliance had already made a significant contribution above and beyond other workers in the country as they were paying an additional 7.5 per cent in the pension levy.

Mr Kavanagh said that historically if the country wanted to raise money there were ways and means of doing so through taxes or levies.

“In terms of what we have been hearing in recent weeks, in terms of targeting basic pay and the targeting of allowances of premiums and increments, we have to say that we resent that targeting, which to us seems to be in breach of the Taoiseach’s comments about cutbacks having to be fair and equitable,” he said.