Protestors call for general strike

Hundreds of people gathered outside Leinster House yesterday evening to protest against the €6 billion of cuts and tax increases contained in Budget 2011. By Alison Spillane

[Photo by Carole Craig]

A variety of demonstrations converged on Kildare street yesterday afternoon and evening as Finance Minister Brian Lenihan presented Budget 2011 to the members of the Dáil.

A Pots n' Pans protest began at 3pm and kept the momentum going well into the evening, buoying the spririts of protestors against the freezing temperatures. They were joined later by members of the 1% Network and the Workers Solidarity Movement. A left bloc rally bgan at 6pm with MEP Joe Higgins as master of ceremonies.

Higgins said that the Fianna Fáil/Green government had betrayed the Irish people and that their budget would "turn working people into serfs".

Among the speakers at the protest rally were trade unionists, People Before Profit councillors, community activists, students, and members of Shell to Sea.

Many of the speakers called for a general strike, including UNITE's Jimmy Kelly who said, "We need to declare that we consider them [the government] to be criminals and they need to be brought to justice".

Two Educate Together pupils highlighted how the economic crisis and the policies of the FF/Green government have affected children. Alex Quinn observed, "The people who caused the debt won't be the people to repay it".

A speaker from Shell to Sea said, "I refuse to have my children and my grandchildren pay for the profligacy of bankers and the negligence of politicians".

Donal Fallon of FEE Maynooth said students needed to move away from the USI and organise themselves. He said mass civil disobedience is a tactic which should be used in the coming weeks. Tomorrow, students of NUI Maynooth will march on the offices of local Fianna Fáil TD Aine Brady.

In Belfast, students from Queen's University Belfast will march to city hall, whilst in Dublin a demonstration to prevent the cut in the minimum wage will take place outside Dáil Eireann at 1pm.

Claiming Our Future has launched an emergency petition to save the minimum wage. It aims to collect 5,000 signatures in 72 hours; the petition will be presented to the Dáil by a delegation of minimum wage workers. You can sign it here.

Focus Ireland has also begun a campaign to oppose minimum wage and welfare cuts. They are asking people to email their local TDs before the votes on these measures are taken. More information here.

See below for footage of yesterday's protest including a special video made for BudgetJame by Paula Geraghty. There's also a clip of Vincent Browne interviewing Joe Higgins.

BudgetJam at the Dail on Budget day 7th december 2010 Dublin from Paula Geraghty on Vimeo.