Thousands of people have attended a cost-of-living protest in Cork city, during which activists demanded further support from the Government to help people struggling with inflation.
Protesters chanted “the cost of living is rising, so are we” and held signs up with slogans like “Rent Control Now”.
A large crowd gathered outside Cork City Council’s offices, where a number of speakers addressed the protest.
Valerie Conlon, an ex-Debenhams worker, spoke about the 390 million euro in half-year profits announced by the ESB on Friday.
We are forced to start GoFundMes for things like basic surgeries, wheelchairs, specialist seatingAntoinette Burke, Fuss
“Already the Government are trying to backtrack on that by saying they’ll give it back to us. They won’t,” she said.
Antoinette Burke of Families Unite for Services and Support (Fuss) described the expense in accessing services for her 15-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy.
“We are forced to start GoFundMes for things like basic surgeries, wheelchairs, specialist seating. Many of us receive no state support, all despite not being able to work,” she said.
“Given that so often the role of a carer is taken on by mothers, means testing payments against partners’ incomes not only tells us how the state values carers’ contributions to their community but leaves women utterly dependent and extremely vulnerable.”
People Before Profit/Solidarity TD for Cork North-Central Mick Barry said that among the things people called for were price controls on energy, rent, and food, as well as “real pay increases for workers”.
“People are resolved that they’re not going to allow themselves or their friends to be frozen in their homes this winter when the ESB are making a two million euro profit per day.”
“Five thousand people on the streets of Cork is a big demonstration. It’s the biggest demonstration seen in the city since the water charges,” he told the PA news agency.
He said that this would put pressure on the three senior Government figures from Cork: Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath, and the Taoiseach Micheal Martin.
“The Cork demonstration was built by anti-poverty campaigners, student unions, trade unionists, and political parties. The groups are not going to get anywhere without massive popular involvement, and hopefully today represents the beginning of that.”
The demonstration comes ahead of a national cost-of-living protest due to be held in Dublin next Saturday, before the budget is officially presented on Tuesday September 27.
The Government is due to announce a number of one-off cost-of-living measures alongside Budget 2023, including another electricity grant to be made available before Christmas.