Unions protest government spending cuts

An estimated 1,500 people protested outside Leinster House today against planned Government spending cuts. The march, organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), was supported by the Labour Party, Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, the Socialist Party, and the Right to Work campaign among others. By Alison Spillane.

The 'Jobs not Cuts' protest began at the headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank on St. Stephen's Green, converging on Leinster House around lunchtime. It coincided with both the return of the Dáil and protests across the EU against government austerity measures; in Brussels tens of thousands of people took to the street and Madrid saw violent clashes between police and demonstrators who essentially shut down the city's public transport system.

 Speaking at the demonstration in Dublin, ICTU President Jack O'Connor (pictured) said that the event also coincided with the second anniversary of the Irish bank guarantee, which he called "the single most catastrophic financial policy decision in the history of the State."

Mr O'Connor went on to say that the government has "cynically and deliberately" allowed unemployment to increase in order to drive down wages. He said that it was clear that the strategy of "savage cutbacks" undertaken by the government had not worked, "The much sought after miracle of export-led growth has turned out to be a chimera delivering neither jobs, revenue or recovery".

Throughout his speech, however, Mr O'Connor was heckled by pensioner Martin O'Reilly who made repeated attempts to reach the stage saying, "He [O'Connor] is a liar, he doesn't represent the people" and further back in the crowd members of the Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) jeered the ICTU leader. The comments were made in relation to ICTU's ratification of the Croke Park Deal in June.

Calling for an end to the "economics of failure", ICTU has said that the government needs to shift focus to revenue sources that will not take out vast sums of money that is currently in circulation in the economy. They have cited the introduction of temporary progressive taxation measures on wealth and capital as a means of achieving this.

At the end of the protest, representatives from the Communications Workers Union (CWU) delivered postcards to the Dáil to "welcome them [the TDs] back from their holidays" and to highlight the fact that during the first two months of the twelve-week Dáil recess, the number of people on the Live Register increased.

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