Protest in Dublin over rural austerity


Up to 1,000 people attended a rally in Dublin today to highlight the impact of austerity measures on rural communities.

Campaigners were protesting against septic tank measures, the household charge, health service cuts, changes in pupil-teacher ratios and the privatisation of State assets.

The demonstration, which was organised by Rural Ireland Against Charges, involved dozens of community groups from counties Donegal, Tipperary, Galway, Limerick and Kerry.

Connemara spokesman Pádraic "An Táilliúra" Ó Conghaile lead protesters from the Spire on O’Connell Street to the gates of the Dáil on a makeshift toilet designed to highlight opposition to septic tank inspection charges.

Addressing the crowd outside Leinster House, Fianna Fáil deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív said rural Ireland was “under attack” and people living in the countryside were being asked to pay burdens the rest of the country did not have to face.

“We want equity between urban and rural people in relation to basic services,” Mr Ó Cuív said.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said the legislation providing for the registration and inspection of septic tanks was “discriminatory and unconstitutional”.

Fellow Independent Michael Healy-Rae said prior to the last election Fine Gael and Labour both promised to burn the bondholders but instead “they’ve given away billions of euros and penalised rural Ireland”.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said the septic tank controversy could be easily be resolved if the same investment which has been put into urban drainage and sewage schemes was put into remedial work in rural areas.

“Ordinary people are been forced to carry the burden of the bailout for the crooked bankers and corrupt speculators which had brought the country to ruin,” he said.