Thousands attend austerity protests despite debt deal
Gardai estimated up 25,000 people attended the Dublin anti-austerity march . Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill /Irish Times
Tens of thousands of people attended austerity marches across the country today despite the Government's hard-won bank debt deal.
The long-planned rallies to protest at spending cuts brought about by the banking crisis took place in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford.
Ictu said up to 60,000 attended the Dublin rally but gardaí put the attendance at 25,000.
Ictu general secretary David Begg said the campaign against the debt burden will continue until the European authorities fully honour the agreement reached last July to separate bank debt from sovereign debt. He said there would be no more "stoic little pixie heads" and "no more Mr nice guy".
Addressing the Dublin rally in Merrion Square, Mr Begg said congress would became campaigning with 60 million trade union members in the European Trade Union Confederation.
He said a situation where Irish people were paying 42 per cent of the European bank debt burden was unfair. Mr Begg estimated that around 100,000 people had taken in the series of demonstrations organised around the country today by the Irish trade union movement.
The Dublin march started on Cook Street before heading down Winetavern Street, Dame Street, Nassau Street until the protestors arrive at Merrion Square where a rally will take place.
The Cork protest istarted at Parnell Place and taking in Merchants Quay, Patrick St before finishing on the city’s Grand Parade.
The Galway rally congregated at the city’s cathedral. Its route took the march over the Salmon Weir Bridge up Eglinton St, down Shop St and onto Quay St before it finishes at the Spanish Arch.
Some groups in the demonstrations have described events as “tokenistic”, saying people needed to “hear some real leadership from the trade union movement on how it’s going escalate resistance to austerity”.
The Government’s bank debt deal, announced earlier this week, saw €28 billion worth of costly promissory notes - issued after the nationalisation of the now-defunct Anglo Irish Bank - swapped for long-term sovereign bonds.
The arrangement, which was backed by ECB officials after a meeting in Frankfurt, will effectively see the State repay Anglo’s debt over a longer period - a move that will reduce the size of annual payments.
Additional reporting by PA