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.
People Before Profit, TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, condemns the Taoiseach for “deliberately and cynically misleading the Dail” during Leaders Questions this afternoon. | United Left Alliance
In a statement this afternoon, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, condemned the Taoiseach for deliberately misleading the Dail during Leaders Questions. In response to a question about the plight of Home Help workers and those who rely on their services, the Taoiseach, rather than answering the question, repeated a false claim made by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore in the Dail last week, relating to disability cuts in the Dun Laoghaire area.
The Taoiseach was referring to Leaders Questions on 11 Oct, when Deputy Boyd Barrett raised the issue of cuts to Angels Quest Respite services with the Tánaiste. At the time, the Tánaiste misled the Dail and said that Deputy Boyd Barrett was “using” the issue of cuts to disabled people for his own political gain and claimed that he had an email in his possession written by Deputy Boyd Barrett, which confirmed this.
The Taoiseach repeated this claim again today and also said that Deputy Boyd Barrett had advised the parents of children affected by the cuts to the respite services to not meet with the Director of Services.
In fact the email referred to was written by one of the parents affected by the cuts to respite services and a member of the executive committee of the Carmona Parents and Families Friends Association. Eamon Gilmore knew this when he falsely claimed it was written by Deputy Boyd Barrett. Unless the Tánaiste also mislead the Taoiseach, the Taoiseach would also have known when he repeated the claim today that Deputy Boyd Barrett was the author of the email.
(See original email pasted below and subsequent comments by parents group on Tánaiste’s misrepresentation of the email and its authorship.)
Deputy Boyd Barrett said: “Both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have deliberately and cynically misled the house. They said things that were completely untrue and that they knew were untrue when they said them. In the process, they also misrepresented and trivialised the concerns of parents of the disabled children who are in Angels Quest – falsely claiming they had refused a meeting with the director of services to discuss the future of Angels Quest. Eamon Gilmore and Enda Kenny knew I had not written this email and yet they said said I had. They knew the parents had agreed to a meeting with Carmona Services but claimed they had not. This is a disgraceful abuse of their positions as the most senior politicians in the country and disgraceful abuse of the Dail itself.
Workers and Unemployed Action Group (South Tipperary) at its Annual General Meeting has unanimously decided to withdraw from the United Left Alliance. WUAG will continue to campaign against government austerity, cuts in public services , against the household charge/property tax and for fair taxation including a wealth tax and higher taxes on the incomes of the super-rich.
Wallace seems to be the catalyst that’s splitting the ULA apart. What dim wits they were to take him on board in the first place.
Will the ULA now just fall apart and everyone go their separate ways.
Another dream bites the dust.
IT HAS BEEN revealed that Council expenditure on the administration of Sligo’s Cranmore Regeneration project is significantly higher than any other regeneration scheme in the country.
United Left Alliance representative Joan Collins T.D. recently asked the Minister for the Environment for details of the amount of regeneration funding spent on a number of urban renewal schemes in 2009 including, the Mitchel’s Crescent Regeneration Scheme in Tralee; the Laural Avenue Regeneration Scheme in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown; the Cranmore Regeneration Scheme Sligo and the Waterford City Regeneration Scheme. She also sought the expenditure on staff salaries on each of the regeneration schemes and the staff salaries as a percentage of overall expenditure on each scheme.
The response from the Ministers office revealed that a colossal 17% of funding provided for the Cranmore Regeneration Project in Sligo was spent on salaries. In Dun Laoghaire Rathdown 1.5% of the funding was spent on salaries; in Tralee 1.5% was spent on salaries; while in Waterford 4.5% of funding was spent on salaries.
Speaking today Independent Socialist Councillor Declan Bree thanked Deputy Collins and said “This funding was supposed to be for regeneration, for the refurbishment of housing stock and the improvement of the estate, however in Sligo almost one out of every five euro is being spent on salaries and administration. How can the County Manager justify this?
“When the Minister for the Environment asked the local authorities in Dun Laoghaire, Sligo, Waterford and Tralee to use their own staff and resources to the fullest extent in terms of supervising regeneration schemes, he did so with the intention of reducing costs. However the exorbitant costs in Sligo are inexplicable and clearly cannot be justified.
“While paying 17% of the funding on administration the regeneration office also paid out over €120,000 in fees to private consultants, in addition over €90,000 was paid in Technical fees in respect of the grass mounds in the estate which still remain in place.
“The fact is that regeneration funding is not being spent where it is supposed to. In the past week alone I have been contacted by a number of constituents from Cranmore – one pensioner who asked for proper heating to be installed in her home was told that there was no money for such work; another told me that her obsolete cooker could not be replaced due to lack of funds and another told me that she has had to ask the Ombudsman to intervene so as to have her windows repaired/replaced.
“I have asked Deputy Collins to raise the matter in the Dail when it resumes in September. As far as I am concerned the people of Cranmore and the people of Sligo are entitled to know why so much money is being squandered on administration costs. ” said Cllr Bree.
THE PROMISED provision of free GP care for 60,000 people with long-term illnesses is likely to be delayed by at least a year because of legal issues.
Successive deadlines for implementing one of the key promises in the Fine Gael/Labour programme for government, the rolling out of free GP care, have been missed.
The first phase of this process would have seen free primary care extended to people with long-term illnesses such as diabetes and epilepsy.