Over 100,000 people marched in Dublin, Ireland Saturday to protest the government’s handling of inflations, job loss and economy. The march was organized by Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu), and many of the demonstrators were protesting plans to impose a pension levy on public sector workers.
The government said the levy was
the reality that we are not in a position to continue to meet the public service pay bill in the circumstances of declining revenue.
Sally-Anne Kinahan, Ictu’s secretary general, told the BBC:
Our priority is about ensuring that people are looked after, the interests of people are looked after, not the interests of big business or the wealthy
The Itcu is offering a ten-point plan which is
not perfect but that it was the best offer that it [the Government] would get
said Ictu general secretary David Begg. Additionally Begg called for the nationalization of the banks and said that
if the taxpayer was taking responsibility for the cost of the €300 million in loans for the ten members of the so-called “golden circle” who were involved in investing in Anglo Irish Bank that the people were entitled to know their identities at the very least.
Also marching were working from the private sector where the economic crisis has been deeply felt. Delegations from Waterford Crystal and SR Technics, two especially hard hit companies, led the march which began in Parnell Street and moved to Merrion Square.
A collapsing real estate market and a huge downturn in construction have helped fuel Ireland’s recession, along with worldwide market downturns.
The president of Ictu, Patricia McKeown called for action at the ballot box where power can be most felt:
If our Government and the elected politicians are not prepared here and now to pledge that they will act now and act on our behalf and act on the proposals we have placed before them then you must be prepared to deny them even a single vote and to send that message out loud and clear.
In a statement issued this morning, the Government said there was a considerable amount in Ictu’s Plan for National Recovery that was "entirely consistent" with its own agenda–and then went on to discuss how necessary pension cuts were, a completely inconsistent point to the trade unions’ stance.
One demonstrator told the BBC:
I’ve worked all my life, I’ve never broke the law, never walked out on strike. Instead I’ve went to work and done my job. I’ve a mortgage to pay, I’ve children to put through school, and now I’m being told I have to take cutback, after cutback, after cutback.
Ireland’s employment figure–based on people receiving benefits–rose to 326,000 last month, the highest number since record keeping began in 1967. The country, once one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union, officially fell into recession in 2008.