Oppressed Irish People hold anti-austerity protest
Thousands of Irish people have flocked into the streets of the capital, Dublin, to call for an end to the government’s austerity measures ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Saturday’s march, which was organized by the Right2Water/Right2Change campaign group, brought together a range of anti-austerity groups under the banner of opposing controversial water charges, budget cuts and tax hikes.
Early estimates put the turnout at up to 20,000, but organizers of the event said the number of participants stood at 80,000.
Gerry Adams, the president of the Sinn Fein republican party, said ahead of Saturday’s event that over 100 election candidates from left-wing groups and independent politicians have signed up to the principles of the anti-austerity campaign group.
“For the vast majority of families there is no recovery,” he said in a statement, adding, “Next Friday citizens have a choice between more of the same or… a new government that will ensure working families are given a break.”
People in Ireland will go to the polls on 26 February to elect representatives to the 158-seat legislature.
Sinn Fein, whose popularity has recently increased due to its anti-austerity stance, is among those parties seeking to make a major impact on the 2016 parliamentary elections.
Right2Change coordinator, Brendan Ogle, said the protest represented an “unprecedented show of determination and unity.”
“For the first time in our history, people are being offered the opportunity to vote for a real alternative – to vote for change,” he said, adding, “I have no doubt that they will seize that opportunity on polling day.”
Ireland has adopted austerity measures in order to compensate for the 67.5-billion-euro (75.1-billion-dollar) bailout it received from the troika of international lenders – the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund – in 2010.
New policies have greatly affected the public services and increased the rate of unemployment in the European country.
Dublin also introduced new water charges recently, costing single households 160 euros (178 dollars) and others 260 euros (289 dollars) a year.