The parade and rally at the cordon around Lough Erne Golf Resort passed off without major incident, although at one point around 20 protesters briefly breached an outer wire fence in front of the main security wall, two miles from the hotel.
The episode did not result in a physical confrontation with police, with the demonstrators withdrawing through the barrier when issued with verbal warnings by officers. There were no arrests.
The vast majority of the activists, who marched three miles from Enniskillen town, were in good spirits as they voiced concerns on a range of issues as the G8 leaders met inside.
Police estimated that 700 people took part but organisers put the figure at around 2,000.
Eamonn McCann, of the People Before Profit campaign group, criticised the scale of the security operation around the resort as he addressed the crowds.
“We are not negative, it is they who are negative, it’s them who have to have 7,000 armed personnel to defend them with a ring of steel. What a farce,” he said.
Hundreds of police officers who lined the route, many drafted in from elsewhere in the UK, were confined to essentially a watching brief from a discreet distance.
The event was the second of two major protests planned in Northern Ireland to coincide with the G8.
With Saturday’s rally in Belfast passing off peacefully, security chiefs will be relieved that contingency measures put in place to deal with potential troublemakers have not yet been called upon.
Around 260 additional police custody cells have been set aside and 16 judges have been on standby to preside over special courts in the event of disorder.
Protesters advocating a diverse range of causes and campaigns, local and global, took part.
Some voiced anger at proposals to bring the controversial fracking gas extraction method to Co Fermanagh, with others hitting out at the G8 leaders for their involvement in conflicts across the world. Many were simply making stand against capitalism.
Earlier, dozens of onlookers stood in shop fronts and at pub doors in Enniskillen town centre as the noisy spectacle passed by on its way toward Lough Erne.
Many demonstrators were keen to highlight their causes as they walked along.
Ciaran Morris, 48, was dressed in a Guantanamo Bay-style orange jump suit and clutched a Palestinian flag.
He said he was protesting against injustices like the treatment of the Palestinians as well as incarceration at the US military base on Cuba.
“All the forefathers of America would turn in their graves,” the Fermanagh man said.
Peter Worth, who lives in Bundoran, Co Donegal, was demanding an end to fracking. He said the protest had given him confidence that many more people shared his concerns about the practice.
“You meet like-minded people and you realise you’re not alone,” he said. “It helps that there are people that are also against this wholesale destruction of the planet.”
George Tzamouranis, 48, from Greece, who was brought up in Wimbledon, south-west London, but now lives in Belfast, said he turned out to express his anger at capitalism.
“I’m angry that capitalism is an unjust, unfair system,” he said. “My sister is a stock market analyst and is immensely wealthy, yet I’ve been out of work for 25 years.”
Mr Tzamouranis said he graduated with a degree in Oriental languages, has been unable to get a job with his education other than casual shift work and remains a victim of capitalism.
“I’ve been living on the ragged edge since 1991,” he said. “Living in hostels, night shelters and now they have put me in a tiny one bedroom flat in Belfast. Capitalists are running down companies here, exploiting people in the East and turning us into the unemployed, marginalised, excluded.”
Caoimhin O’Machail, 66, from Dungannon in Co Tyrone, said the decision to hold the summit in Northern Ireland was unforgivable.
“It is capitalism gone crazy,” he said. “The money they are spending on it is obscene – why don’t they throw them into the desert and let them get on with it?”
Frankie Dean, 50, from Ballinamallard, Co Fermanagh, said he wanted to speak up for gay and transgender people being persecuted in Russia and Northern Ireland.
“Also while equal marriage is coming into the UK and other countries, it is not in Northern Ireland – and that is because of religious influences. I want those in government to come away from these influences and respect people’s rights.”
James Pellatt-Shand, 42, from Canterbury, said the turnout was lower than anticipated and blamed protesters being scared off from travelling to the area, but said he was delighted with the carnival atmosphere.
His main concern was global hunger and poverty, which he claimed could be easily solved with goodwill between rich nations.
“But I think they’ll be more likely to discuss how many weapons to give Syria than how many children are going to bed hungry,” he said.
He criticised big companies who avoid tax in developing countries, saying: “They are just stealing the food out of poor people’s mouths.”
Anti-austerity campaigners from Donegal wore giant sized heads of German chancellor Angela Merkel, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, whom they accused of being her puppets.
Charlie McDyer said: “They are the instigators of austerity in Ireland. They have no consideration for anyone in this country apart from the elite.”
Four human rights observers with the Committee for the Administration of Justice in Belfast were asked to observe the rally by Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
The Fine Gael-Labour coalition in Dublin is currently discussing a proposal from Finance Minister Michael Noonan, which imposes austerity budgets until 2020.
Although the programme has not yet been published, government officials have made clear that its purpose is to intensify the spending cuts under the bailout agreed with the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund after the programme expires later this year.
Referring to the dictates of the troika, which have ensured the implementation of a large part of the more than €28 billion of austerity measures since 2008, Noonan said, “When we leave the programme we won’t have that kind of discipline within our system any more and I want to make sure that, because of more loose arrangements, that we don’t lose impetus.”
Specific savings are expected to be outlined by the proposal, and fiscal targets will be included. Spending ceilings for the coming three years are to be presented in the 2014 budget, which will be announced in October.
Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton, like Noonan a member of Fine Gael, was explicit that the government’s strategy would be to step up the downward pressure on labour costs in order to build a “competitive economy.”
“There isn’t a crock of gold that you can dip into and create an alternative to building sound enterprises that are oriented to export markets and who sell innovative products,” he proclaimed.
The Labour Party’s Public Sector Reform Minister Brendan Howlin is playing a leading role in slashing government spending. A letter was recently issued by him to each government department, detailing percentages of budgets to be cut in the years 2015 and 2016. These are thought to include annual savings of at least three percent in the budgets of the health and social protection departments. Other departments could face annual targets of five percent.
The state pension fund will be bled dry to offer incentives to foreign investors and private equity firms to come to Ireland. The Financial Times reported that the remaining six billion euros in the National Reserve Pension Fund would be used by the government to create a “co-investment” fund.
There has been hardly any public discussion on these new developments, which will condemn Irish working people to unending austerity for years to come. These policies will worsen the conditions of misery which already prevail, including an unemployment rate standing at 14 percent.
Essential to the enforcement of austerity is the full support of the trade unions, which the government can be assured of. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has been locked in talks with the coalition since February to reach an agreement to impose the latest round of savings on public sector workers. The successor to the no-strike Croke Park Agreement between government, employers and the unions, which expires next year, aims to save €1 billion by 2016.
The unions are currently trying to force through the Haddington Road Agreement in the face of widespread opposition among workers. In the first vote on the deal in April, a large majority of workers rejected it, including an overwhelming number of teachers, medical staff and emergency service workers.
The bureaucracy then entered new talks on a union-by-union basis in order to divide the emerging opposition. They accepted as good coin the claim from Howlin that the three year agreement would be the last time workers would be asked to sacrifice their wages and working conditions to pay for the collapse of the banks, even as he prepared to outline with Noonan proposals which will see austerity and labour market reforms continue for at least another four years thereafter.
The deal now being voted on by the public sector unions retains all of the cuts demanded by the government. It contains reductions to overtime pay, longer working hours, redeployment measures designed to cut numbers in the public sector, and the freezing of pay increments.
These measures will exacerbate the exploitation of workers who have suffered significant pay cuts since 2008. In the public sector, average wages have fallen by 14 percent, while in other economic areas it is even more. This has been an integral part of the drive by the ruling elite to permanently lower labour costs. According to one study, labour costs in Ireland fell between 2008 and 2012 by 8.4 percent.
On this basis, the Irish stock market is achieving its largest rally since the crisis. Stock values have more than doubled since a low point in early 2009, and companies are predicting that they will secure their biggest profits since that time. One trader bluntly pointed to the source of these renewed gains, telling Bloomberg, “We have to give Ireland credit for actually sticking to the reform programme and taking the levels of painful social adjustment that few countries in Europe have come close to.”
The continued expansion of profits is unsustainable, and there are already clear signs of the danger of another banking collapse. Last week, it was revealed that €3.5 billion of funds loaned to Allied Irish Bank during the near collapse of the banking system in 2008-09 would not be paid back to the state, but would be converted into preferential shares. One press article pointed out that this one move would see the state lose more money than the total savings it had planned in the 2014 budget.
The banks will likely require access to even more financial support from the government, another important factor driving the cuts. Noonan discussed this possibility at his last meeting with the IMF, in the event the banks fail stress tests scheduled for early 2014. The tests, initially planned for autumn 2013, have been pushed back amid concerns over the stability of the banks. Fitch released a report this week stating that “significant risks” still remain in the financial system.
In the absence of agreement within the European Union on allowing the EU’s bailout fund to lend directly to banks, Dublin would be faced with taking even more debt on to the state balance sheet in order to cover the capital requirements of the financial institutions, under conditions in which state debt is already greater than 120 percent of GDP.
In an ominous report released at the end of May which indicates the scale of the developing crisis, Ireland’s Central Bank pointed out that a total of €25.8 billion of mortgages were in arrears by more than 90 days, and small businesses had fallen behind with payments on loans totalling €10.8 billion. The banks have only €9.2 billion in capital to act as a buffer.
While the banks can expect to obtain full access to billions more in state resources, the latest figures point to a sharp rise in severe poverty. One in ten are suffering from food poverty, defined as an inability to afford a meat or vegetarian equivalent meal every other day, or having missed a meal over a period of two weeks because of money problems. The real number of those living under such circumstances is certainly much higher, since the figures from this report were collected in 2010. In a separate study, the Irish League of Credit Unions revealed that almost 50 percent of the population have to borrow money to meet the cost of basic bills.
Activists from Unite, Britain’s biggest union, and NIPSA, which represents thousands of public sector workers in Northern Ireland, said measures had been put in place to prevent demonstrations in Belfast and Fermanagh being hijacked by troublemakers.
“If you are intent on trouble do not come near our demonstration. We won’t allow this demonstration to be hijacked,” said Gary Mulcahy, a spokesman and co-ordinator for the G8 Not Welcome campaign.
Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of Belfast for a protest organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) on Saturday.
Protesters will attempt to get as close to the world’s eight most powerful leaders as possible by snaking their way on a pre-agreed route through the town towards a perimeter fence erected around the site of the luxurious Lough Erne resort. The protest is expected to last for up to four hours.
The trade unions have also accused the Government of scaremongering in an attempt to put people off joining protests.
Jimmy Kelly, Unite regional secretary, said an atmosphere of fear was being deliberately stirred up ahead of the conference.
“All the build up is designed to put people off with wall-to-wall police, back up and drones and everything you can think of.
“We are trying to cut through that intimidation climate to say you are entitled to protest, be proud to protest because our aims are just and we are a force for good. If you want to go out with your family and be part of the protest you are concerned that the security is going to go over the top.”
Industrial action in the health service and other parts of the public sector is now threatened following the collapse of the proposed new Croke Park deal.
The country’s largest public service union,SIPTU, which includes 45,000 health service workers, has rejected the ‘Croke Park 11’ proposals by a margin of 53.7% against and 46.3% in favour.
The SIPTU vote, however, is expected to lead to the collapse of the Croke Park Deal extension proposals, as they cannot be sanctioned by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) without the support of SIPTU, which is the largest union in the country.
The IMPACT union, which also represents health service workers, has voted by 56% to 46% to accept the new Croke Park deal.
The Government may now move to legislate for the implementation of pay cuts in the public sector in the absence of overall union agreement on the Croke Park proposals. This would put the Government on a collision course with the unions.
Commenting on the result, SIPTU General President Jack O’Connor said that the vote reflected the sense of grievance among working people and public service workers, in particular, ‘that they are carrying an excessive burden in the post-crisis adjustment.’
SIPTU and the INMO urged the Government not to legislate for pay cuts. The INMO said this would ‘inevitably result in major disagreement and a potential dispute.’
The HSE needed to save €150 million this year from planned pay savings under the Croke Park deal in order to stay within budget.
The health executive’s latest performance report says this sum had yet to be allocated to its budgetary calculations pending the outcome of the public service pay agreement extension.
In the absence of these pay savings, the HSE may be forced to cut services to balance its books.
The ‘Croke Park 11’ measures included pay and allowance cuts of between 5.5% and 10% for those with salaries above €65,000 -and the reduction of premium rates for staff working on Sundays from double time to 1.75 times the normal hourly rate.
Other overtime rateswere to be cut to time and half for those on less than €35,000 and time and a quarter for those earning more than €35,000. Staff currently on a 39 hour week would do an unpaid hour’s overtime.
Basic pay of staff earning over €185,000 was due to be be cut by 10%.
The deal provided for a three year increments freeze for staff earning more than €65,000, those earning below €35,000 faced a three month increment freeze, while those paid between €35,000 and and €65,000 faced two three-month freezes.
THE TEACHERS’ UNION OF IRELAND (TUI) has voted in favour of a motion that instructs its executive committee not to re-enter talks on Croke Park 2 with either government or management and to reject any imposition of proposals on its memebers.
One of the emergency motions voted on today instructs the executive committee to withdraw from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) if attempts are made to impose proposals on members.
In the event that the government or ICTU tries to impose the proposals under the new Croke Park deal on TUI members, the union has voted to ballot for industrial action including strike action.
Over 80 percent of TUI members, made up of post-primary teachers and higher education lecturers, voted to reject the proposals under the new agreement in the union’s first ballot last month.
Today the union proposed that should the government move to impose any change to conditions already rejected by members of TUI in the democratic ballot of members, members will immediately desist from participating in any or all of the following:
Croke Park discussions
School development planning
School self evaluation
Half in/Half out meetings
Any or all teacher-based assessments
Speaking to TheJournal.ie this evening Deputy General Secretary of the TUI Annette Dolan said it was now a matter of waiting for the outcome of other ballots to get an overview of members’ opinions.
Quinn is due to speak at the TUI conference in Galway tomorrow and Dolan said she expects he will be “received courteously” by members. She said the union always “made a point of engaging in a dialogue with the minister”.
It is the first completed ballot on the deal.
The TUI represents just under 15,000 second level teachers and lecturers.
Traditionally, if a majority of ICTU unions accept a deal like Croke Park, those who reject it abide by the majority vote.
However, the TUI executive has decided not to be bound by an overall vote in favour.
TUI President Gerard Craughwell said this could pose a huge problem for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions – particularly if other unions opposed to the Croke Park extension plans follow the TUI line and refuse to accept the majority vote.
The proposals in the Croke Park deal are aimed at reducing the public sector pay bill by an additional €1 billion over the next three years.
I believe it is not unreasonable to demand some class of a microchip to be installed that shuts the game down after two hours”
With a hat-tip to BreakingNews.ie we learned today that Galway Senator Freely Memes Senator Fidelma Healy Eames previously pledged to write to the National Consumer Association in 2011 to have chips fitted to gaming consoles so they will shut down after two hours.
“Apart from the health point of view, thousands of our children, teens and even young married men are spending endless hours on these machines. Just ask parents how difficult it is.”
Having compared the ill effects of playing video games to those of smoking she pledged to get manufacturers to fit devices which would automatically shut down the consoles and then keep them off for some time. Onwards to the dystopian tomorrow where the non video gaming Irish master race will be free to frape and sext as much as they want.
What a loo-laa. Can you imagine the craic in the National Consumer Association when they got the young intern to ring up Sony and Microsoft and ask them to ‘stick a chip in there that we can get the young fella off the couch’
The Senator, who is going on another ‘fact-finding mission’ to the USA on the tab of some shadowy American pro-life fundamentalist group despite political contributions to the seanad being capped, has been all over the news since being given a Senate seat. Following three failed general election campaign the Labour Panel consisting of the Irish Conference of Professional and Service Associations & the Irish Congress of Trade Unions gave her a seat in the Seanad on a salary of €65,621 BEFORE expenses.
Panti Bliss recalls Fidelma’s wonderful contribtuion to the control of social media debate.
Responding to Budget 2013, Congress General Secretary David Begg said: “The budget could cost us up to 40,000 jobs, due to the ongoing extraction of money from the economy.
“The money taken from the pockets of working families is money that will not be spent in local shops and on local services and will cost us jobs.
“The abolition of the PRSI Allowance is particularly harsh and sees working families lose €5 per week,” Mr Begg said.
“In effect, this budget could cost working families up to €1000 per year, in terms of increased taxes and charges. What makes this particularly unfair is that families with an income of €30,000 will pay the same as those on €300,000.
“Congress believes this cut must be reversed.
“Meanwhile, business has not been asked to pay more – instead we have seen a package to tax breaks that will do nothing for domestic demand and job creation,” Mr Begg said.
He said that there was some progress on the tax treatment of unearned income, and pensions, although he described the measures as “somewhat timid.”
Mr Begg pointed out after six austerity budgets we had seen some 360,000 jobs lost, some €28 billion extracted from the economy and we have made minimal impact on the deficit.
About 10,000 people took part in an anti-austerity protest through the streets of Dublin today, according to a Garda spokeswoman. Organisers put the figure at twice that number, however.
Marchers began to assemble around the Garden of Remembrance from midday.
The demonstrators were led by a young woman wearing a white mask and riding a dark horse with a banner reading “No to austerity” draped around it. Road closures were in place in Dublin city centre as the march made its way from Parnell Square, through O’Connell Street, onto d’Olier Street, before returning onto O’Connell Street, where speeches took place outside the GPO.
As the front of the march crossed over O’Connell Bridge back to the northside, the rear of the demonstration was still making its way onto the other end of O’Connell Street from Parnell Square.
Michael O’Reilly, president of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions (DCTU), which co-organised the gathering, said it was just one step in a long campaign to reverse cutbacks.
“The evidence is clear – you cannot cut your way out of a recession,” he told protesters gathered outside the GPO on O’Connell Street.
“On the contrary: with each cut in public spending, and with each euro taken out of the pockets of low and average earners in new or increased taxes, we are digging ourselves further into a hole.”
The march, organised by the Campaign Against Household and Water Charges, the Dublin Council of Trade Unions and supported by the ICTU, Siptu and other trade unions, was also joined by members of People Before Profit Alliance, Sinn Féin and the Socialist party, organisations including the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed and groups and individuals from around the country.
The march was also supported by regional groups, among them organisations from Monaghan, Donegal, Waterford, Kilkenny and Cork, which are variously opposed to the household tax, water charges and the septic tank charge.
Sean Walsh, who is part of a group from Portlaw, Co Waterford, which is opposed to the household charge, said he was “very encouraged” by today’s turnout.
“The effect [of austerity] is that it’s slowly tripping the country, slowly but surely and slowly affecting all business. In the rural areas the shopkeepers and publicans and so forth, they are slowly being put out of business and slowly being ground to a halt. It’s a simple message: austerity is not working, and we must fight it and we must get the message across to the Government,” he said.
The march was also attended by individuals including Wesley Fitzgibbons, a fitter who was with his four-year-old son Liam, who said he simply could not take any more cuts.
“We just feel that the Government is hitting the middle working class all the time. There’s nothing else there to take. People are working more hours to make ends meet and at end of the month we’re just barely scraping by,” he said.
Independent TD Finian McGrath said he had joined the march because “austerity is not working and the Government have to face that”.
The main reason he was there was because he was “absolutely furious about the way families and adults and children with a disability are being treated with services being cut at the moment”.
“People are here from a wide range of Irish society. A lot of community groups, the drugs groups, the disability groups, the unemployed…but they are here for one main reason – first of all, yes, they are afraid, but they have accepted the reality that even the IMF are saying that austerity is not working as an economic strategy to deal with the crisis.”
As the crowds assembled to hear speeches outside the GPO there were cheers as two men, who had draped a banner from the roof of a five-storey building reading “Shame on Labour”, lit a flare on top of the building.
As president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Eugene McGlone, was introduced to the crowd he was met by boos and shouts of “strike”.
Siptu president Jack O’Connor later condemned this interruption, which he said was conducted by a small minority and represented “a sinister trend which has developed over the recent past and that bears all the hall marks of fascism”.
He said he had witnessed a number of people carrying Sinn Féin banners accompanied by others carrying United Left Alliance posters participating in this activity and that he would be requesting that the general secretary of Congress speak with the leadership of both parties.
“I want to make it very clear that I am not alleging that either of the organisations approved of, or condoned, fascist activity of this kind. But the fact of the matter is that is being carried on by people who are either associated with their organisations or elements who are very deliberately masquerading as such for reasons best known to themselves.
“The time has come to draw a line on the activities of this tiny minority who would deny the right to freedom of speech and which, once again has tried to besmirch a demonstration against the failed one sided austerity approach which saw more than 20,000 turn out behind the banner of the Dublin Congress of Trade Unions.”
The DCTU is planning another demonstration outside the Dáil on the day of the budget, December 5th.
Older people are suffering the ill effects of the cutbacks and they stand in solidarity with their children & grandchildren who are also suffering.
This is why the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament will proudly march alongside trade unions and other community groups before Budget 2013 on Saturday next to say “No to Austerity”. We are asking all our members around the country to walk alongside us with dignity & respect to show the Coalition government that we have had enough of the recession, enough of the cuts to income and enough of the threats to the travel pass. The last Budget saw a vicious cut to the means tested fuel allowance thus increasing fuel poverty.
So walk alongside us … but wrap up warm with good shoes and scarves and gloves. This time however we want you to wear different shades of grey to symbolise the many hits we’ve taken. But we are not without hope – wear a sprig of green as well to show that we still have hope. And what about some “Greys in Shades” – wear some sunglasses as well.
Lastly what about some placards? We’ll have some but we encourage you to make your own & bring them with you. Your own words are always best but here are some possible slogans you could have on your placards:
We’ve paid for our Pensions
For a proper health service
Keep Older People Warm & Mobile
Fair Pensions for all
For dignity & respect
For a better, fairer old age
A Fairer Ireland for Older People
HITS – Health, Income, Travel, Security
Hit the bankers – Not the pensioners
Bash Bankers – Not Pensioners
We all stand together
Hands off our Pensions
We’ve paid for our pass
No more austerity
Enough is Enough
No more cuts
We’re all in it together
Why not just shoot us?
Never too old to suffer
No Country for Old Men … or Old Women
March is to be held on the 27th Nov
The Government is seeking to save €1 billion over the next three years in a new deal on reform and productivity with the public service unions.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin yesterday invited the unions to talks designed to achieve, by agreement, further substantial savings in the public service pay and pensions bill. The Government is hoping accord can be reached by early in the new year.
Unions expect one of the main changes the Government will propose is longer working hours for staff with no additional pay. Other issues such as increments, premium pay rates and possibly reforms to existing grade structures could be on the agenda for the discussions.
Senior higher-paid staff who already work flexible hours could face cuts in their overall pay levels. Earlier this year, the Health Service Executive proposed staff should work two additional hours per week for the next three years.
The Government said yesterday the guarantees set out in the Croke Park agreement, no further cuts in core pay and no compulsory redundancies, would remain in force.
Government sources emphasised that savings of €1 billion in the pay and pensions bill were required by the end of 2015 “to meet the fiscal challenges” demanded by the bailout programme.
No precise details
However, the Government side declined to spell out precisely the nature of the reforms to work practices and the new productivity measures it would be seeking.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said the Government would be seeking to secure “a significant advance” on the workplace change already delivered by public servants, and “a large sustainable additional fall in the cost of public service delivery in the period to 2015”.
“The Government is determined to meet its fiscal consolidation targets and reduce its deficit to less than 3 per cent by 2015. The gross public service pay and pensions bill accounts for 35 per cent of overall spending in 2012. On this basis, the Government considers that it is fair that it should contribute broadly one-third of the substantial expenditure consolidation that will be necessary over the next three years,” said the department.
It added that if the public service pay and pensions bill was to make the necessary contribution to the consolidation in expenditure necessary up to 2015, a new deal, setting out a new agenda for change and productivity, was necessary.
“The Government will also be seeking to secure an additional substantial reduction in the cost of public service delivery, including in 2013, through this process. We want to secure a significant evolution on the workplace change already delivered . . .” it said.
The public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is to meet today to consider the Government’s invitation to talks on a deal. The largest public service union, Impact, will argue this should be accepted. Other unions were more cautious.
In a letter to Impact branches yesterday, union general secretary Shay Cody said members would benefit from an extension of Croke Park protections in light of dark forecasts.“The union will go into any talks with the objective of protecting members’ pay and pensions against further cuts . . . Achieving success will mean agreeing to measures that cut the public service pay bill in other ways.”
General secretary of the Civil Public and Services Union Eoin Ronayne expressed concern over whether lower-paid workers could achieve further cost savings.
Up to 10,000 people are expected to take to the streets of Dublin in a weekend protest march against Government austerity measures.
Tommy McKearney, of Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes – one of the organisers – said the march would be a message to the Government that it was not elected to impoverish the people.
“Nor are they there to promote the policies of austerity across Europe by being the example of the poor peasant who would prefer to starve rather than refuse to pay the rent as we may have said in the previous century,” said Mr McKearney.
“We’re not going to tolerate that as a people. We will challenge and resist this drive towards impoverishing our people by austerity.”
Communities Against Cuts, the Dublin Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) and the Spectacle of Defiance and Hope are among the other organisers.
DCTU president Michael O’Reilly warned the Government was likely to introduce a budget that would further cripple the country for a sixth year running.
He said it was unacceptable that 300,000 people are unemployed and that 1 million are living in deprivation following the collapse of the economy.
“That is why we are asking people to join us on November 24 and send a clear message to Government Buildings in advance of the budget,” he added.
“We need to change direction and start focusing on growth and investment rather than destructive cuts.”
Speakers will include household charge opponent and Socialist Party councillor Ruth Coppinger and a spokesman from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
John Bissett, of Spectacle, said the march would also include music from a string quartet and puppets.
“I’m hopeful this will be provocative, interesting and helpful,” he said.
The campaigners have called for the Government to protect the poor on Budget day and to avoid the closure of local services, jobs and community projects.
They will also appeal to those taking part to picket the Dail on December 5, as a mark of solidarity against cuts.