On Wednesday December 5th, more than fifty éirígí activists took to the streets of Dublin to take part in a budget day protest against austerity, which had been organised by the Campaign Against the Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT).
The march assembled at 4.30pm at the Central Bank Plaza on Dame Street, before making its way to Leinster House. Over 1,500 people took part in the colourful protest which heard speeches from community and trade union activists as well as members of the CAHWT, éirígí and other political organisations.
Following the anti-austerity rally, a section of the crowd, including many éirígí activists, decided to block Kildare Street in an act of collective peaceful protest against Budget 2013. In response members of the Gardaí, including the mounted unit, tried to clear the road in the time-honoured fashion of police forces across the globe – by pushing, punching and kicking peaceful protestors. In a blatant attempt to inflame the situation a number of Gardaí then attempted to confiscate flags, placards and banners as ‘offensive weapons’.
Such scenes of direct conflict between citizens and the forces of the state have been surprisingly rare in Ireland over the last five years. When compared to the peoples of Greece, Spain and Portugal the Irish have been relatively slow to organise popular and effective opposition to austerity. But it would be wrong to interpret that lack of organised opposition as indicative of a broken people. The relatively small scuffles that were witnessed outside of Leinster House on Budget night may well prove to be a forerunner for much larger and more widespread civil unrest.
As the reality of decades of future austerity hit home the people of Ireland may well yet show that their fighting spirit has not yet been extinguished. Those that hold the reins of power in both Stormont and Leinster House would do well to remember the words of P.H Pearse when he said,
‘And I say to my people’s masters: Beware,
Speaking at the protest, éirígí Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan said, “Tonight’s protest was defiant and angry. Those that stood up to the aggression of the Gardaí are to be commended. This country needs lots more like them. This Budget is the sixth austerity budget inflicted on the people of this state by successive Dublin governments. As with the previous five budgets, the government has continued its attacks on the working class and the most vulnerable in our society.
“Workers, the unemployed, families, children, the elderly as well as the sick and the disabled have all been targeted by the Fine Gael/ Labour government. Slash and burn cuts to Child Benefit, Carers Allowances and social welfare, combined with the imposition of an unjust property tax mean that once again the establishment are forcing the working class pay for a crisis we did not create.”
Louise continued, “Tonight’s protest, following on from last Saturday’s march where up to 18,000 people took to the streets, show that there is widespread opposition to austerity in this state. Movements such as the Campaign Against the Household and Water Taxes have shown that people right across the country have decided enough is enough. But one protest will not defeat austerity. Resistance must be built in communities right across the Thirty-Two counties on a day by day, week by week basis. The fight back must be organised in every village town and city in the country.”
Louise concluded, “2013 will mark the one hundredth anniversary of the 1913 lockout, when the Irish working class organised to take on the might of capitalism. One hundred years on, let us take inspiration from that heroic struggle and celebrate the centenary of the lockout by organising the working class for victory, and by building a mass movement that can defeat austerity, capitalism and imperialism once and for all.”
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