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Dublin: 10°C Sunday 28 February 2021

SIPTU boss "reluctant to predict numbers" ahead of pre-Budget march

The demo, calling for “an end to austerity and an end to cuts” takes place from 1pm this afternoon on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

Unite's Jimmy Kelly, actor Ger O'Leary (aka Jim Larkin) and Mandate member Sandra Stapleton at the event's launch
Unite's Jimmy Kelly, actor Ger O'Leary (aka Jim Larkin) and Mandate member Sandra Stapleton at the event's launch
Image: Tommy Clancy

PRESIDENT OF SIPTU Jack O’Connor says he’s not willing to predict numbers ahead of this afternoon’s planned large-scale anti-austerity march. The union leader said that factors like weather and the amount of pre-event publicity generated would be factors in convincing people to show up.

The pre-Budget demonstration in Dublin city centre is being organised by the Dublin Congress of Trade Unions, which has calling for a large turnout to sent the message to Government that “austerity has failed and will continue to fail”.

The crowds will gather at 1pm outside the Garden of Remembrance, proceeding down to the GPO on O’Connell street where speakers will address a rally.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Jack O’Connor said that if there was a big enough crowd at the protest it could lead to a softening of the Budget.

Numbers turning out for such demonstrations have been steadily declining in recent years. Some 25,000 turned out for a protest in the wake of the 2008 ‘emergency’ Budget, while in the following two years over 100,000 turned out for union-led ‘days of action’.

Asked whether ‘recession fatigue’ was a factor, O’Connor said that anti-austerity campaigns “require people to be prepared to engage in actions over a long time”.

“People ask why we didn’t do what they did in Greece or Portugal. Those protests weren’t as big as we’re led to believe. Plus, what we’ve experienced wasn’t close to what they had.”

Along with SIPTU, union leaders from the likes of Unite and the CPSU are also supporting today’s action.

Unite’s Jimmy Kelly called on people to show up to “send a loud and clear message to the Government ahead of Budget Day:  our society cannot withstand any further cuts – and neither can our economy”.

Kelly also said the union was in the process of setting up ‘people’s assemblies’ around the country to discuss news of cuts happening in different regions, and to decide what action could be taken to oppose them.

Read: Five years older and deeper in debt… So why don’t the Irish protest more?

Read: The leader of Iceland’s ‘Kitchenware Revolution’ reckons we have a thing or two to learn about protests>

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