Call to name the 'golden circle' as 100,000 march
City brought to a standstill by economic protest
Those who make up the so-called 'golden circle' must be named, trade union leaders demanded yesterday as Dublin was brought to a standstill by a march of more then 100,000 people protesting at the Government's economic policies.
In a major demonstration of people power, protesters from all over the country vented their anger at the banking crisis, catastrophic job losses and public service pension levies.
Led by the Dublin Fire Brigade pipe band and workers from Waterford Crystal and SR Technics with hundreds of union banners fluttering in the wind, with babies in buggies to pensioners carrying placards ranging from "Stop Fleecing working families" to "Down with cosy cartels", the huge parade made its way from Parnell Square to Merrion Square watched by a garda helicopter.
Outside Government buildings, Ictu general-secretary David Begg accused those responsible for the crisis of economic treason and called for those in the 'golden circle'.
"We are entitled to know who they are if we are funding them," he said to huge cheers.
He acknowledged the fear and anger in the community over job losses and conceded "no one is safe, there is nowhere to go".
But he said it was worth noting those at the head of the banks held directorships elsewhere in the economy but they were not being ousted.
Ictu president Patricia McKeown said: "Our message to this Government is that Irish workers will not be shaken out of the system."
The Government had failed to listen to the warnings given by the trade union movement about the collapse of the boom and, to their disgrace, the cupboard was now bare.
"In bad times, a good government is there for people to protect jobs and the most vulnerable," she said.
They were now bankrolling those who had brought us to this state instead of protecting workers, she added.
"It's time to demonstrate the power we hold . . . at the ballot box. If they do not act now on our behalf then you must be prepared to deny them a single vote," she said.
General-secretary of Impact trade union Peter McLoone said, "What we need now as a matter of urgency is a fresh approach within the context of the Social Partnership model."
The Government defended its handling of the economic in an earlier statement insisting its cost-cutting measures were essential.
"The Government recognise that the measures which it is taking are difficult and, in some cases, painful," it stated. "The Government is also convinced, however, that they are both necessary and fair."
The ICTU march, from Parnell Square to the Dail, was originally planned to protest public sector cutbacks and pension levies. But organisers later called on all workers, from the public and private sector, to turn out in a "national demonstration" against the handling of the downturn.