Protest draws attention to Ireland's wealthy elite

An estimated 300 people marched in Dublin today to call for a 'wealth' tax to be targeted at the richest one per cent of people. The See How the 1% Live demonstration passed through some of the wealthiest parts of Dublin. The protest was organised by the 1% Network, a coalition of socialist groups including Eirígí, Irish Socialist Network, Seomra Spraoi and the Workers Solidarity Movement. By Christina Finn.

The demonstration began at the Wolfe Tone Monument in Stephen's Green and continued through the affluent districts of Dublin 2 and Dublin 4. It stopped at several locations, including the new headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank, Tony O'Reilly's Fitzwilliam Square house, property developer Johnny Ronan's residence on Burlington Road and IBEC headquarters on Baggot Street.

Speaking at the demonstration Gregor Kerr (pictured) of the 1% Network said the protest was intended to "provide facts about the wealthy elite and to spark debate and discussion about the wealth in Ireland". Kerr voiced his disdain at comments by journalist John Waters in the Irish Times that the demonstration was an odious fixture that didn't deserve the oxygen of publicity.
Mr. Kerr said: "The government claim that there is no money left in the country. Today we showed them a couple of places where there is still plenty of wealth which could be used to bring the country back from the abyss."

Speakers opposed "savage" cutbacks proposed in the upcoming budget; they also said that the people who caused the economic downturn are escaping unscathed. The demonstrators arranged for the tour to stop by Jonny Ronan's 'purple palace' residence on Burlington Road; they allege that Mr Ronan is one of a "wealthy elite who remains untouched" by austerity measures.
Speaking at IBEC headquarters, the 1% Network critisised IBEC advice that the tax rate was already high. The tax net should be widened, speakers said. "Pay attention to what IBEC says, as they are the lobbyists for the 1%".

Tony O' Reilly's household on Fitzwilliam Square, bought in 1995 for £1m (IEP) was another venue for the walking protest, as was Dermot Desmond's Dublin townhouse.

Speaking at Shell headquarters the 1% Network said that Ireland's natural resources are being exploited by the nation's 1%.
"A €52 billion oil find was discovered off the coast of Dublin," a speaker said. "This is owned by two companies, one of which is Providence Resources, the chief executive is Tony O' Reilly. The Irish State has a 0% share in these oil finds."

At the end of the protest, Brian Leeson, also of the 1% Network said: "40,000 people own one third of the wealth in this nation. While we struggle to keep our homes they find it hard to remember which houses are their primary residences."

Being a relatively young campaign, - just three weeks old - organisers of the walking tour expressed their satisfaction at the turnout and promised further protests before budget day on 7 December.