Thousands protest over Nama, cuts


Up to 2,000 people marched in Dublin yesterday in protest at proposed Government cuts and the planned National Assets Management Agency (Nama).

The protest was supported by Sinn Féin, the People Before Profit Alliance, a number of socialist groups, trade unions, striking workers and several anti-Lisbon groups.

There were also a number of Dublin community groups, the Residents Against Racism campaign, the National Women's Council of Ireland and protesters against proposed cuts to Child Benefit. Fine Gael and the Labour Party, who oppose Nama, were not formally represented.

Among the most passionate of the speakers at Parnell Square, where the protesters gathered, was Theresa Shallow of the Save Crumlin Children's Hospital Campaign.

"This Government is cutting everything they can get their hands on. Just €9.6 million is what it would take to put front-line services back into Crumlin hospital. Over €50 billion is what they are giving to bankers and developers," she said.

"Who the hell do they think they are to take money out of our pockets we need to raise our children? I'm telling you, as an Irish citizen I have the right to vote on Lisbon. And I'm telling you that vote will be No."

Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin said people were enduring the worst Government ever. "They will only go if every man, woman and child in this country is mobilised to come out, to protest, to vote against them, to tell them: 'You must go'."

University lecturer and Socialist Workers Party member Kieran Allen told protesters they were up against the whole political establishment. "We have to stop them on behalf of our children. Every single penny of the health budget and the hospital budget is being gambled on Nama," he said.

The Dáil vote on Nama was being postponed until after the October 2nd vote on Lisbon, he said, so as not to jeopardise a Yes result. "We must protest week after week, we must mobilise, we must move to civil disobedience. The Green Party must feel the anger of the people and know they won't get away with voting for Nama."

Anti-Lisbon campaigner and artist Robert Ballagh spoke as did James Loughman, a striking Dublin dock-worker, who said he and his colleagues were entering their 12th week on strike. The protest was also attended by strikers from Coca Cola Ireland and striking bin-men.

The march moved off at about 2pm towards the headquarters of Anglo-Irish Bank on St Stephen's Green.

There were a number of chants along the way, including: "They say cuts backs. We say fight back." and: "Cowen, out. Greens, out. Bankers, out. Developers, out. Nama, out."

Gardaí said the crowd was good-humoured and there was no trouble.

At St Stephen's Green, Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance urged marchers to join further protests, outside Leinster House on Wednesday evening and at a Siptu-organised march against cuts on 30th September.