Updated at 5.22pm
SINN FÉIN TDS stood side-by-side with Independents and others on the stage today at the Right2Change protest rally in Dublin.
Near the end of the rally – which saw thousands of people marching through Dublin city – candidates in the upcoming general election who had signed up to the Right2Change set of policy principles stood on the stage under a common banner.
The large crowd was told by demonstration organiser Brendan Ogle that people had a choice now to elect a government who came together on a set of common principles.
Among those on stage were Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and Independent Mick Wallace as well as other candidates from across the 40 constituencies.
Ogle said that the current government had failed the country and ‘left a legacy’ of poverty behind them.
Over 100 Dáil candidates have signed up to the Right2Change policy platform – including Sinn Féin, the People Before Profit Alliance and a number of Independents.
No candidates or politicians gave any speeches at the event.
Before the Dáil hopefuls gathered, crowds listened to impassioned speeches from activists and organisers, as well as music and poetry.
A number of large screens broadcast the faces of Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore, among others, while speakers blared out statements made in the past by the politicians regarding austerity, the EU and the recovery.
Air of determination
The rain that had been falling in Dublin started dying down as crowds gathered outside the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin’s north inner city, before they marched to College Green where the rally was held.
The Right2Change movement has emerged out of the anti-water charges protests which had their peak in late-2014, when tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Dublin to vent their frustration with the government.
At its core, lies common agreement on things like housing and social policy.
While the numbers of today’s demonstrations didn’t reach the heights of late-2014, there was an air of determination by the people gathered to send the outgoing government a message.
‘The birth of a new left’
Speaking the TheJournal.ie at the march, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy – whose party haven’t signed up to the Right2Change set of principles – said that the march represented ‘the birth of a new left’.
“This is the birth of a new left – that won’t sell people out,” he said.
“The water charges movement has been key… to showing how you can have power, how people can fight back and how the water charges can be beaten.”
“People are here because it’s an anti-water charges, anti-austerity protest,” he said.
Murphy also said that the turnout at the march would be reflected next week in the polls.
“This reflects what’s happened, in terms of the fall of the Labour Party and rise of the left,” he said.
Banners from a wide-range of different organisation could be seen today at the demonstration, as well as people carrying posters and wearing clothing protesting against water charges and austerity.
A separate rally was being held by the AAA-PBP political grouping after the main demonstration at Wynn’s hotel.
As today’s demonstration ended, a group from the Irish Housing Network took to the stage to raise the issue of homelessness and to demand equal rights to housing and fair treatment for all, ahead of next week’s election.