Last night in the rain about 1,500 protesters joined a demonstration against the Irish Government's cut backs and the bail-out of the banks outside Leinster House. Dublin, Ireland. 18/05/2010.
Last night in the rain about 1,500 protesters joined a demonstration against the Government's cut backs and the bail-out of the banks outside Leinster House.
Two scuffles broke out when up to 100 activists broke away from the rally and faced gardai's (guardians) outside Leinster House and Anglo Irish bank and along Saint Steven's green.
Others sat on the ground and chanted as a line of gardai - some mounted on horses - shielded the Dail (Irish Parliament).
Early Gardai made a concerted attempt to stop the march leaving from the wolf tone monument and entering on to the road. They formed a cordon of officers backed by horses along the corner of Stephen's Green and attempted to physically prevent the march from entering onto the road. Why they attempted to do this is a matter of conjecture - having attended hundreds of marches - some with less than 50 people, I have never seen the gardai attempt to block a march from using the road in Dublin.
Some of the marchers thought that it represented a provocation in the hope that the crowd would give the gardai an excuse to attack them, others thought that it represented an attempt to put the radicals in their place by imposing themselves upon them. Whatever their motivation, their execution proved inept. Within a couple of minutes the entire crowd had succeeded in pushing through them or walking around them and forming up as a march on the road.
Others sat on the ground and chanted as a line of gardai - some mounted on horses - shielded the Dail. As the group finally dispersed without any major incident, members vowed to return again next Tuesday night with even more support.
The rally was organised by the Right to Work Campaign, which is against the Government's plans to inject billions of euro into the country's banks. Security at the Dail had been stepped up after a group of demonstrators last week tried to break through the front gates.
Artist Robert Ballagh said he joined the protest to support the right to work and demand there be no further cutbacks to social services and social welfare. He believed more residents across the country will end up joining the campaign.
"Maybe when they discover that their benefits are being cut, that their swimming pools are being closed, that education for their children is being curtailed, they might feel it might be time to protest as well," he added.
Several speakers addressed the crowd on Molesworth Street during the rally, sponsored by Unite Trade Union.
Teresa Shallow, of the Save our Lady's Children's Hospital campaign, said youngsters were suffering due to funding cuts while politicians were fine dining and travelling overseas.
"Children do not deserve to be lying on trolleys or lying at home in agony," she said. "Children are waiting for months on end for treatment."
As the majority of demonstrators left peacefully and continued to march towards the GPO, the group of 100 headed towards the Dail carrying banners and chanting. The same group was earlier involved in a minor altercation with gardai when they started their march from St Stephen's Green past the now nationalised Anglo Irish Bank.