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110,000 march against austerity in Ireland

4 March 2013

On Saturday 9 February an estimated 110,000 people joined the ‘Lift the Burden – Jobs not Debt’ marches called by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

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Demonstrations took place across the country to call for urgent action to tackle the growing unemployment crisis and the €64 billion debt burden which is crippling the country. Over 60,000 took part in the Dublin protest, while at least 15,000 turned out in Cork, 13,000 in Waterford, 10,000 in Limerick, 7,000 in Sligo and 5,000 in Galway.

TSSA, other unions, community organisations and a wide range of civic society groups who have been hit hard by the current and former government’s austerity policies joined the protests. As the trade unions warned, these polices have devastated the economy and society. The Irish domestic economy has shrunk by over 25 per cent in the last three years.

Irish Congress of Trade Unions general secretary David Begg told protestors in Dublin that the recent deal with the ECB had not solved the problem: ‘1.8 million people [in work] cannot possibly pay off a bank debt burden of €64 billion – especially a debt they played no part in running up. There is nothing fair about this deal. We saved the European banking system in 2008, an act of extraordinary solidarity with Europe – now we want some solidarity in return’.

TSSA’s senior Irish organiser Patrick McCusker adds, ‘Irish people have taken on an incredible 40 per cent of the total cost of the bank crisis across the EU. Each Irish citizen has already paid €9000 compared with an EU average of €190 per person. The disparity between the pain inflicted on the Irish people, with less than 1 per cent of the total population of the EU, (and just 1.2 per cent of its GDP) and the contribution from many other, richer, states is unacceptable.’

‘Bank debt and austerity have prevented any hope of economic recovery. We cannot just stand by and let our children and grandchildren face a future of unemployment, emigration and poor public services all to pay the debts incurred by gambling banks who’ve paid nothing for their greed, dishonesty and incompetence.’

Marchers sent a strong message to the troika, other EU governments and working people across Europe that only a comprehensive write down of Ireland’s debt burden can save the economy from decades of recession.

The €64 billion debt will hang round the necks of generations of Irish people for decades to come unless the burden is lifted. This is a struggle we cannot afford to give up on.

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General Secretary Manuel Cortes on the demonstration in Cork

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