CLOSE to 200 frontline public service workers including gardaí, ambulance staff, nurses and council staff staged a major protest outside the constituency clinic of Kerry-based Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan on Monday evening.
The protesters were predominantly members of the Kerry Public Service Workers' Alliance (KPSWA) which is comprised of union representatives from education, the civil service, health, local authority and garda though they were also joined by members of the Kerry branch of the 24/7 Front Line Alliance who turned out to support their colleagues at the rally.
Protesters said they were not willing to take any further cuts and encouraged a No vote to the Croke Park extension proposals.
Minister Deenihan was not in a position to meet the protesters as he did not attend his Tralee clinic on Monday evening due to his attendance at a previously arranged event in Limerick. A spokesperson for the minister said he was not notified about the protest.
KPSWA spokesperson Martin O'Grady said that "the well is dry" and there is nothing left for public sector workers to give.
"This government has made a choice to squeeze public servants rather opting for fair taxation of those who can afford to pay. The existing Croke Park agreement was not due to expire until June 2014 but this government has not torn it up," he said.
"This is a default on public servants by a government that repeatedly states that it never defaults and has repaid every cent to the bondholders of failed banks. This evening public servants from across the county will tell our Minister that enough is enough. These proposals will soon be rejected by union members and any subsequent attempt to legislate will face the wrath of public servants," said Mr O'Grady.
Local Authority worker John Michael O'Callaghan said he and his colleagues were "sick and tired" of being asked to accept more and more pay cuts by the government.
"We've had enough. We've given up all we can afford to give up and some of us haven't got a bob left to spend once we pay our bills and that's if we can pay our bills," he said.
Ambulance driver Brendan Galwey said he and his colleagues were tired of being targeted for paycuts by a government who won't make any sacrifices of their own.
"We were the first to contribute to the country's recovery and to returning the country to normality but we seem to be the soft targets and continuous targets for the government. In the mean time we have a taoiseach who is paid more than the president of the United States and there's no talk about reducing politicians salaries in line with European norms.