Ireland: Huge anti-cuts protest, most support debt default

Issue 

About 100,000 people took over the streets of Dublin on November 27 to protest the Irish government’s “bailout package” from the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, and the savage austerity accompanying the loans, the Morning Star said on November 28.

The government formalised the loans, worth €85 billion, on November 29. Loan conditions include the government spending cuts over four years to reduce its deficit. The 2011 budget will contain €4.7 billion in cuts and €1.5 billion in new taxes, the Morning Star said.

The protest was organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Protesters rallied in front of Dublin’s General Post Office, the headquarters of the 1916 Irish uprising against British rule, demanding Ireland default on its debts to international financiers as Iceland and Argentina had done.

The Morning Star said a November 28 poll showed most Irish people, 57%, supported defaulting on debts to bondholders. The Sunday Independent poll also found two thirds of respondents opposed the public spending cuts.

Irish Republican news reported on December 4 that support for republican party Sinn Fein has surged — overtaking support for the Irish government. Sinn Fein is the only party in the Dail (Irish parliament) that has strongly opposed government austerity measures, as well as the bailout. Sinn Fein instead proposes a job-creating stimulus package funded by increasing taxes on the rich and cutting the salaries and perks of top public servants and politicians.

Support for the ruling Fianna Fail has collapsed to just 15%, while Sinn Fein’s support has risen to 16% — double the level at the 2007 election.

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