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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019

SIPTU condemns 'fascist behaviour' at today's austerity protest

SIPTU president Jack O’Connor alleges that protesters carrying Sinn Féin and ULA banners attempted to disrupt proceedings.

A flare being lit on a city centre rooftop during today's protest
A flare being lit on a city centre rooftop during today's protest
Image: Conor Reynolds

Updated 6.45pm

SIPTU PRESIDENT JACK O’Connor has said that attempts were made to prevent the head of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Eugene McGlone from speaking at today’s anti-austerity march.

O’Connor said that a number of protesters carrying Sinn Féin and United Left Alliance banners and posters tried to “besmirch” the demonstration, describing it as a “deeply sinister trend which has developed over the recent past and bears all the hall marks of fascism”.

McGlone was booed when he came on stage to speak, with Brid Smith from People Before Profit eventually intervening to tell the crowd that he deserved to be heard. The ICTU president spoke about the need for a general strike at a rally outside the GPO at the end of today’s march. SIPTU has since disassociated itself from calls for such a strike.

Michael O’Reilly of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions also addressed the crowd, but was heckled when he thanked those who had turned up with one man shouting “how much are you getting paid?”.

Jack O’Connor has said that he’ll be looking for confirmation from both the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and from the leadership of the United Left Alliance that neither body condoned or approved of the activity.

I want to make it very clear that I am not alleging that either of the organisations approved of, or condoned, fascist activity of this kind.  But the fact of the matter is that is being carried on by people who are either associated with their organisations or elements who are very deliberately masquerading as such for reasons best known to themselves.

In a statement to Councillor Larry O’Toole, leader of the Sinn Féin group on Dublin City Council said that many people are criticial of the leadership of the trade union movement because of its support of the Labour party.

O’Toole said that the Labour party is “implementing the brutal austerity policies affecting working families and citizens across this state. It was inevitable that such criticism would be reflected at today’s rally”.

O’Toole added:

However, Sinn Féin was not involved on the orchestration of booing or heckling of speakers, nor does the party condone such activity.

Jack O’Connor also said that more than 20,000 people had turned out “behind the banner of the DCTU (Dublin Council of Trade Unions)”, although Gardaí have said that they’re putting the final figure at 10,000, based on observations from the Garda helicopter.

SIPTU condemns 'fascist behaviour' at today's austerity protest
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Additional reporting by Christopher McKinley

Earlier: Thousands take part in Dublin anti-austerity march (PHOTOS)

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About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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