Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/649/10719
Irish working class in huge show of defiance
DESPITE THE atrocious weather between 50,000 to 100,000 people braved the arctic conditions and marched through Dublin on Saturday 27 November in a massive display of anger against the Irish coalition government's latest austerity budget.
The protest hinted at the collective strength of the working class and how - given a fighting leadership - the workers' movement could stop the government cuts in its tracks.
Thousands of home-made placards denounced the banks, the EU, and the politicians in very colourful language.
Socialist Party stalls sold over 500 papers as workers and youth looked for ideas on how to fight back.
An alternative platform organised by the Socialist Party and other left parties and groups was held at the end of the main ICTU demonstration.
Approximately 5,000 people who had already braved the freezing conditions for three hours stayed to hear Joe Higgins (Socialist Party MEP for Dublin), and others put forward a political alternative (see the video on www.socialistworld.net).
Despite this opposition to the capitalist speculators, banks and international finance capitalists - whose greed has looted and wrecked the Irish economy - the Fianna Fáil-led government has gone cap in hand to the same European Union/International Monetary Fund/European Central Bank gangsters who have demanded yet more cuts in workers' living standards as part of an 85 billion bailout.
Under a deal, which Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Brian Cowen laughably described as the "very best that is achievable for our country", the bailout calls for a further 15 billion in cuts and tax increases.
Such a financial programme will only deepen the recession in which the economy has contracted by 17% and where unemployment officially stands at over 13.6%.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) says the 'national recovery programme' will cause another 90,000 job losses.
A deflationary programme of nearly 30 billion cuts/tax hikes over six years will guarantee mass unemployment and mass emigration for years to come.
The Irish working class is being sacrificed in an attempt to save the euro and the failed market system and now these capitalist vultures are moving on to Portugal.
There is nothing to create a future for young people in this 'plan'. A 40 a week cut in the minimum wage, student fees up 33%, no job creation, 25,000 less jobs in the public sector.
Even those who do get a job in the public service face a starting pay 25% less than two years ago - 21,000 a year for a clerical officer - a poverty wage given the high cost of living.
The multinationals and their billion euro profits will not be touched as corporation tax remains at 12.5%. Yet the lowest paid will pay more tax and have their pay cut by a whopping 11.5%.
The Irish Socialist Party commented on the way forward:
The people of this country have the collective ability to stand up to and stop the austerity attacks.
The trade unions are potentially the most powerful social force in this society. Today's demonstration is just a glimpse of what can be achieved. But one demonstration is not enough. The most powerful weapon the working class has is the ability to withdraw its labour - to strike.
The ICTU should name the date for a one-day general strike as the first step in a determined campaign of national strikes and mass demonstrations with the goal of bringing down the government and stopping the four-year austerity plan.
A mass movement of working class people could get rid of this lame duck government and send a powerful message to Labour and Fine Gael [pro-capitalist opposition parties] that another version of the same austerity plan will not be tolerated.
- The Socialist Party is standing candidates in the general election as part of the new left slate, the United Left Alliance (see http://www.socialistworld.net/index.php/4666).
In The Socialist 1 December 2010:
Youth Fight for Education
Socialist Party editorial
The Socialist Interview
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis