Thousands attend debt burden marches
Updated: Saturday, 09 Feb 2013 21:09
Thousands of people have taken part in protests organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in a number of cities across the country.
Debt burden marches took place in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Limerick and Waterford.
ICTU said over 110,000 people took part in the demonstrations. However, local and garda estimates put the number at around 50,000.
The largest event took place in Dublin, where gardaí said up to 25,000 people took part.
Congress General Secretary David Begg warned European authorities that unions will campaign against the debt burden until they honour the deal of 29 June.
Speaking in Dublin's Merrion square, he said there would be more "stoic little pixie-heads" and no more “Mr Nice Guy”.
Mr Begg told the crowd that they would be campaigning with the 60 million trade union members in the European Trade union confederation.
He said the situation where Irish people were paying 42% of the European banking debt burden was not fair.
Last week, Mr Begg said he hoped between 80,000 and 100,000 people would attend the protests.
He said that while the deal was an important step, Ireland was still nowhere near solving its financial problems - and the debt burden on the Irish people was still unsustainable and unjust.
In Limerick, around 8,000 protesters gathered at Pery Square following a march through the city.
Local ICTU representative Mike McNamara said 1.8m working people are still being asked to pay a total bank debt burden of €64billion.
He said the cost of the bank debt has been €9,000 per person in Ireland compared to an average cost of €192 per person in the EU as a whole.
Mr McNamara told the crowd that the limits of what people can bear and tolerate has well and truly been exceeded.
He said his message for Government was that people did not elect it to cut child welfare, close Garda stations and create yellow pack jobs.
He said an economy must serve the people, not enslave them, adding that the Government was elected to be watchdogs, not lapdogs.
In Cork, gardaí said around 6,000 people took part in the protest, which began on Parnell Place and continued through Merchants Quay, Patrick St before finishing on Grand Parade.
In Galway, gardaí estimate that up to 2,000 people took part in the rally.
In Waterford, local estimates suggest around 2,000 people turned out for the rally, which began from the Glen, to Bridge St, onto The Quay and finished on John Roberts Square.
Gardaí said around 6,500 people took part in the rally in Sligo town.
A rally took place in the main street, which was addressed by a numbe of speakers including union officials and a representative of the Senior Citizens Parliament.
For further information on road closures check AA roadwatch.