12 November 2009 Edition
Marchers seek 'fair play for the little people'
An Phoblacht’s ELLA O’DWYER joined those on the streets of central Dublin who marched last Friday as part of the ICTU-organised state wide mobilisations.
FRIDAY 6 November saw tens of thousands of people take to the streets of Dublin in protest at the government’s mismanagement of the current economic crisis – a crisis caused by a culture of greed, cronyism and shortsightedness.
At the Dublin march and rally the air was thick with barely contained anger.
Eric Nolan, a taxi man from Tyrrelstown, was holding a placard depicting Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan standing in a pool of blood with an axe over his head. ‘A desirable cut’ the signage reads.. Eric was furious to the point of doing real damage. I admire his poster and ask why he’s here. “I’m totally against government policy, the fact is that they caused this recession. I’m here out of utter frustration at what they’re doing and what they’re not doing. The poster is to the point isn’t it? Cut the crap!”
A forest of whistle blowers scurry around in yellow T-shirts with Snip Off and Get up Stand up written on them. One such was Willy Wynn of the retired section of SIPTU. “I came out to support the workers. You’ve bankers walking free after all the damage they caused. I think personally that they should be behind bars. I’d say the majority of the population feel the same.”
Walking around to the front of the Garden of Remembrance I find three young men battering out their frustration on drums. “Are these war drums?’” I ask excitedly “or are you calling on the higher powers to aid us in the hour of need?” No, the lads were there to raise the spirits of the hard pressed public.
Moving up towards O’Connell Street I overhear a man with a very distinguished looking dog on a lead say: “It’s the first time I ever brought the dog into town because it would only make him nervous. I’m here for the same reason as everyone one else is. It’s an absurdity what’s happening. We’re heading into a state where capital takes precedence over the public good and that has to be dealt with. I actually think this march is a bit of a charade though, because people will go home and nothing will happen after it. But you still have to come out and protest. If things get worse, which I believe will happen, I think people are entitled to take things into their own hands and bring down the government and put a body of people in who will get it right when it comes to running the country. Look at what the government is doing now compared to the principles of the Proclamation of 1916. The common good is not being served. I’m from Finglas myself.” “Do you know Dessie Ellis?”, I ask. “Dessie from Sinn Féin? Dessie is a good worker. He knows me well. My name is Gerry Buckley.”
Of course Sinn Féin members were there in plenty and Dessie was head of the posse along with Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD and Councillors Larry O’Toole and Seán Crowe .
Despite the heavy burden of doom and gloom, the scene between Parnell and Merrion Squares last Friday was really quite colourful.
Speaking of burdens, the stalwarts of the Shell to Sea campaign were there carrying the, by now familiar, government ‘begging bowl’ – a toilet seat ferried by four pall bearers. You could think of something nicer to be doing on a Friday afternoon but the sight was very impressive, especially since one of the front bearers was a man over the middle-aged mark carrying the burden with the aid of a walking stick.
The ambulance drivers are out too. “All we’re looking for is a fare and equitable system”, one frustrated ambulance driver shouts over the whistler blowers. “The people who have orchestrated all these problems have walked away scot free. All the bankers and the financial sector – they’re all still in their jobs. It’s the people on the streets here who are paying the price.”
“Get up, Stand up” the people roar, as we walk past the Jim Larkin monument on O’Connell Street. I look up and read the inscription on the statue. ‘The great appear great because we are on our knees: Let us rise.’ And they rose. But would the march actually bring results? Not so according to a young Garda who points out that he is not allowed to strike. “To even talk about striking”, he assures me, “is almost a sackable offence in the gardaí. I think it’s great that people can go out and voice their views but I don’t think it’ll bring about any change.”
Not so fast Garda. Around past the front of Trinity College and there’s a rush of young women running across to stand and roar gleefully in front of the Thomas Cooke offices. These were the same young women who stood up against their boss and secured the sympathy and support of the public the length and breath of Ireland. “United the people, will never be defeated,” they shout to huge applause. Clearly these women don’t suffer from the apathy displayed by the garda.
The atmosphere was even uplifting by this stage. The mainstream of Irish society were represented. ‘Fair play for the little people’ reads a placard held by a middle-aged leprechaun holding a crock of gold. “The fairies and leprechauns are all emigrating; in fact there’s only about 500 of us left. We’re demanding fair play for the little people.”
By the time I’m at the rear of the Dáil and turning up to Merion Square, a microphone announces that the end of the march is only arriving at O’Connell Bridge. A text arrives from a Tipp comrade. ‘Is it a good turn out?’ he asks. ‘Looks good to me’ I reply.
Seventy thousand ICTU estimates and that in the capital alone. People the length and breath of the country took a stand. They ‘Got up’ and ‘Stood up’ to the big bosses. Fair play to the little people.
WITH OUR COMMUNITY: Sinn Féin members were there in plenty
An Phoblacht Magazine
AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:
- Don't miss your chance to get the second edition of the 2019 magazine, published to coincide with Easter Week
- This special edition which focuses on Irish Unity, features articles by Pearse Doherty, Dr Thomas Paul and Martina Anderson.
- Pearse sets out the argument for an United Ireland Economy whilst Pat Sheehan makes the case for a universally free all-island health service.
- Other articles include, ‘Ceist teanga in Éirinn Aontaithe’, ‘Getting to a new Ireland’ and ‘Ireland 1918-22: The people’s revolution’.