For two hours yesterday Dublin’s O’Connell Street was a swollen river of anger as 100,000 people marched in protest at the government’s handling of the financial crisis.
The demonstration had to set off from Parnell Square at 1.50pm, almost 15 minutes early, to accommodate the huge numbers. Long after 3pm, as most of the protesters were gathered in Merrion Square, the tail end of the snake of marchers was still shuffling across O’Connell Street, waving their placards and shouting their disgust.
“If this levy goes ahead, I’ll be left with €6.50 a week to live on,” said Sean Whelan, a housing maintenance worker for Dublin city council, referring to the government’s levy on public sector workers. He fished a sheet of paper out of his inside pocket and waved it indignantly. “Here’s my wage slip, if you don’t believe me. Look. I’m already only getting ¤106 a week, and this levy is going to have me down to nothing.”
Whelan said the government cutbacks had hit him in a number of ways. He did not qualify for a carer’s allowance, despite looking after his incapacitated 85-year-old-mother. Cutbacks in the medical card scheme meant he now had to pay for her dentures, glasses and incontinence material. He was also hit with the levy affecting all PAYE workers.