Heroes and Villians at the GPO

References have been made in recent weeks to the loss of Ireland's economic self-determination and the insult to Irish revolutionaries who fought for independence, human dignity and equality. Some media commentators ridiculed such references.

Historical context clearly resonated with protesters at yesterday's march on the GPO. Fintan O'Toole noted that the 1913 Dublin Strike and Lockout and the 1916 Rising took place within yards of where he stood. He spoke of the contemptible irony that almost 100 years on, Irish people are again demanding the same rights and dignity. He spoke of the contradictions that describe Irish society: "If you steal €10 you go to jail and if you steal €10 million you are idolised."  

O'Toole suggested that in addition to the forthcoming budgetary cuts, the government cut 2013 and 2016 from the calender as it would be hypocrisy for Irish politicians to commemorate these landmarks having eroded Ireland's economic sovereignty and dragged the country back to a state of mass unemployment and mass emigration. His speech was met with rousing applause.

Christy Moore and Frances Black were greeted with equal warmth. Christy sang Ordinary Man, a well-known song of his written in the 1980s about the economic recession. It tells the story of a working man made redundent by the 'captains of industry.. who never lose'.

Before singing What's illegal and what's illegal, Frances Black was cheered loudly when she said: "There's 150,000 people marching in the freezing cold and we're saying 'We've had enough'".

These receptions contrasted sharply with the continued jeering of trade union leaders Jack O'Connor and David Begg through their speeches. It may have been inevitable that they would be met coldly, but the march was an opportunity for them to communicate a strong message.  Compared with Fintan O'Toole's rousing and bite-sized observations, they failed utterly.


Full coverage of yesterday's speeches at the GPO


National Demonstration Nov 27 2010 from Digital Revolutionaries on Vimeo.

Ill Dependents remix of For what died? by Luke Kelly

            Illdependents - For What Died by Illdependents

Frances Black singing at yesterday's protest


ITN news coverage of the march. They cite the Garda figure of 50,000 - the crowd seemed to be larger.