Earlier today O'Connell Street was filled with thousands of demonstrators expressing their anger at the Government. Estimated numbers vary widely, from 50,000 to over 100,000. Although the protest was organised by ICTU (the Irish Congress of Trade Unions), the ordinary marchers were not necessarily there on behalf of the unions. Their shared motive was to express frustration and disgust at the Government, especially Fianna Fail.
Ruth McCabe reading extracts from historical documents. She and Fintan O'Toole have found a strong line of attack on Fianna Fail. The party has long gloried in a soft form of nationalism, but how will they celebrate 1916 when they have done such damage to Ireland's sovereignty?
Jack O'Connor of SIPTU. He was greeted by booing. The protest was organised by the unions, but clearly many people feel that the unions - as social partners - share part of the blame.
Francis Black as she prepares to sing Legal Illegal.
Marie Doyle talks about how pensioners have been affected. (Her speech delighted an elderly lady beside me who had been very unhappy up to that point that pensioners' issues weren't being discussed.)
Unemployed plumber Keith O'Driscoll.
Berry Flemming, a Laura Ashley employee.
Felix Lennon sings about healthcare.
David Begg of ICTU. Perhaps hoping to avoid the booing Jack O'Connor received Begg gave a forceful speech strongly attacking the Government. He mostly succeeded in getting the crowd behind him.
The protest was well organised and there was little or no violence, so much so that the Gardai seemed cheerful rather than tense.
Although I accept that we're in a bad way and that cuts and tax increases are unavoidable - and would be even if we didn't have a banking crisis - there's no denying that a lot of innocent people are going to get hurt. After the protest I spoke to a homeless man and (miracle of miracles) a woman who recently moved from being homeless to having a home. I'll write more about that in another post. All I'll say here is, it made me feel like paying more tax. And ICTU: your members might be suffering, but they're not the most vulnerable in society.