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Crisis Protests In Hard-hit Ireland

  • February 22nd, 2009
  • Posted by 7thmin

irish-protest.jpgSome one hundred thousand people have paraded through Dublin (21.2.09) in Europe’s latest manifestation of fear and protest over impacts of the world economic crisis.

The country’s Congress of Trade Unions announced an ongoing campaign of protests, against a pensions levy imposed on public workers and a range of cuts in government spending.

(Class war Irish style: Congress of Trade Unions “fat cats” video;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CHuAjXvn00)

Ireland after profiting well from its accession to the European Union – benefits ranging from farmers’ milk cheques to an open jobs market for brilliant young graduates –joined the keenest of “neo-con / neo-liberal” states.

Heady days of deregulation and wild borrowing caught up with an exposed, young financial industry with the crunch late last year; the economy has plunged steeply into recession.

Whereas Ireland voted against strengthening ties with the European Union in a referendum last June; belonging to the Euro zone is seen as providing a buffer to an even worse buffeting from the financial storms outside the small republic’s borders.

Said The Economist this month:

“The difference between Ireland and Iceland, so the current joke goes, is one letter and six months. A Dublin economist responds that the real difference lies in a four-letter word: euro. Ireland is in, and Iceland is not. A former European commissioner from Ireland, Peter Sutherland, thinks that Europe’s single currency has kept Ireland afloat. Even so, GDP is expected to contract by 5% and the unemployment rate to rise to over 9% this year. And Ireland is bracing itself for a credit downgrade on its sovereign debt.”

Treatments being administered by the Dublin government, successors to the much-right-of-centre Bertie Ahern, are reminders of certain remedies from days of the Great Depression.

An impost on public sector workers would seem to be right, where state revenues are coming down, and many voters outside the sector would like to see a good share of the pain inflicted on those with relatively secure jobs.

It does not help with the call for stimulus; but that might be seen as too “Keynesian”.

Reference:

“The Irish Economy: Reykjavick on Liffey”, The Economist, Dublin, 5.2.09. www. economist.com, (22.2.09).

Irish Congress of Trade Unions, “National demonstrations set for Feb 21”. http://www.ictu.ie, (22.2.09).

Picture:

Same place, another time: protest against 1916 executions; warchat.org 

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