Despite freezing temperatures, an estimated one hundred thousand people were on the streets of Dublin today to take part in the ICTU demonstration against the draconian four year plan, which is raising taxes on low paid workers, slashing wages, social services and cutting social welfare. The WSM took part in the demonstration with the 1% Network, highlighting the wealthy 1% of the population who own 34% of the wealth, and pointing out that only a general strike can force them to back down from making us pay the full costs of the crisis.
The march, which took about an hour and a half to make its way from the Wood Quay starting point to the GPO, was composed of people from all sectors of the Irish working class. Members of trade unions, community groups, and socialist and republican parties travelled from all corners of Ireland to attend the demonstration. Their frustration and anger was apparent when SIPTU president Jack O’Connor and ICTU General Secretary David Begg were booed for offering lukewarm ‘solutions’ rather than decisive action.
After the ICTU speeches, the Left Bloc took to their stage at the bottom of O’Connell Street, where Joe Higgins MEP, Cllr Louise Minihan, and Cllr Richard Boyd-Barrett spoke, among others. Cllr Minihan, speaking on behalf of the 1% Network, said that “we are in the midst of a class war. This government, and the anti – worker establishment has launched savage attacks on the Irish people. Attacks, which have and will continue to hit the most vulnerable in our society hardest. The government aim to slash and cut their way out of an economic crisis, which they and their capitalist cronies created.” (The full text of Cllr Minihan’s speech is reprinted below.)
At the end of the Left Bloc speeches, approximately five hundred people joined a breakaway march to the Dáil, where they were met by a heavy Garda presence, including riot police and dogs. Fireworks and snowballs were thrown at the building, and pictures of Brian Cowen burnt. At least one protestor was reportedly arrested.
WSM members reported live from the demonstration via Twitter.