Friday 24 October 2014

Video: All ages united against the chill wind of austerity

Published 26/11/2012 | 05:00

Seven-year-old Amy Jones was all decked out for the occasion. The pretty little girl was sporting a jaunty red flower in her hair, and she was carrying a lifelike, cobwebbed gravestone made from foam, which bore the inscription: 'RIP Regeneration Project O'Devaney Gardens'.

This was her second protest march, having made her debut at the age of five. Amy is part of Generation A, a child of austerity.

A few yards behind was pensioner Esta Carter from Moate, Co Westmeath, who had strung a large sign around her neck, which had a rhyming slogan that was most censorious of 'bankers'. She had several beefs with the Government, in particular with the country's local councils and planning decisions.

"They're all bent as a two-bob watch," she said. Esta is part of Generation S, as in Seen It All Before.

Every age group was on the march, every county represented, every grievance aired. There were protest flags for youth resource centres, the European Anti-Poverty Network, Defend Home Help, Drogheda Against Household Charges, Parents Against Child Benefit Cuts – anyone who has felt the sharp wind of austerity.

The march was organised by the Campaign Against Household and Water Charges, the Dublin Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) and supported by the ICTU, Siptu and other trade unions and political groups including the United Left Alliance and Sinn Fein.

One woman rolled along in a wheelchair, clutching a sign that perhaps sums up the national sentiment: 'Austerity My Arse'.

Another chap's placard implored for the return of St Patrick to Ireland – 'It's Still Full of Snakes', it announced.

On O'Connell Street, actress Sinead Cusack handed out leaflets beside her son, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett.

It was a bitterly cold afternoon, the march was conducted at a snail's pace, so it wasn't surprising that the numbers had dwindled considerably by the time the speeches eventually kicked off outside the GPO.

Michael O'Reilly, president of DCTU, said it was just one step in a long campaign to reverse cuts.

"The evidence is clear – you cannot cut your way out of a recession," he said.

Despite rumours that some groups were planning to cause trouble, there wasn't any violence. But there was an outbreak of political infighting.

President of ICTU Eugene O'Glone, who called for a general strike, was initially booed by the crowd – a reaction later condemned by Siptu leader Jack O'Connor, who claimed it bore "all the hallmarks of fascism".

But his accusation was roundly condemned by a People Before Profit councillor, who described the heckling as "a spontaneous outburst of anger at the inaction of union leaders".

The DCTU is planning another demonstration outside the Dail on the day of the Budget, December 5.

Irish Independent

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