éirígí activists and supporters gathered at the Malahide Road constituency office of Fianna Fáil Dublin North Central TD Seán Haughey last Saturday [January 22] in protest at the IMF/EU deal.
The deal will see billions of euro of private banking debt being heaped upon the shoulders of working people, the dismantling and privatisation of public services and, ultimately, the impoverishment of tens of thousands of households.
Carrying a large banner which read “Take to the Streets, Before the IMF throws us into them” and bearing placards calling for Fianna Fáil and the IMF to be thrown out and for the rich to pay for their own crisis, the éirígí activists received considerable good will and support from the general public.
Upon arrival at Haughey’s constituency office on the Malahide Road in the north of the capital, staff rushed to pull down the shutters, no doubt concerned that the TD might meet the same fate as the paint splattered Mary Harney. In the midst of the collapse of the Fianna Fáil/Green Party government and the farcical goings on in Leinster House, members of the public expressed their outrage at the establishment as it attempted to save its own skin while sacrificing working people.
The response of local people of the Malahide Road reflects the widespread public anger at the IMF deal, despite attempts by the establishment to portray the shameful deal with the global neoliberal enforcers of the IMF ‘as the only show in town’. Working class communities are only too aware of the devastating impact the IMF deal will have and the immorality of forcing them to pay for the gambling debts of bankers and property developers.
At the protest, chairperson of éirígí’s Coolock ciorcál, Ciarán Heaphey said: “Working class communities in areas like Coolock will be devastated by this deal.
“Just a few weeks ago, record numbers of patients were left to languish on trolleys in Beaumont hospital while awaiting treatment. This is but a taster of what is to come as further savage cuts in health spending are implemented this year.
“Unemployment figures for the Coolock area now stand at over 5,000 and an increasing number of local jobs are being lost as the economy continues on a deflationary spiral. In recent years, major local employers such as Chivers and Smurfit Packaging have closed and there have been massive job losses at Cadbury and Aer Lingus, leaving hundreds of local workers jobless.
“With the worsening economic crisis, this trend has continued and we have heard from many local people about the devastation that this is causing and of the many young people who are being forced to emigrate to find work. In addition, those in work are being crippled by increased income taxes and the frankly anti-social Universal Social Charge which is squeezing workers even further, while the unemployed faced a further cut in last December’s budget.
“Back in the 1980s, this area was devastated by a drugs epidemic and mass unemployment. Seán Haughey’s Fianna Fáil party abandoned this community to the dole queues and the drug barons. It was only through the determination and hard work of local community activists that this community survived. We cannot allow this to happen again. Working class communities in places like Coolock cannot be made to pay for the greed of bankers, property developers and speculators.”
Encouraging local people to get involved in éirígí’s campaign, Heaphey added: “Today marks the beginning of éirígí’s local campaign of public opposition to the IMF deal.
“Over the last number of weeks, our activists have distributed thousands of leaflets and put up hundreds of posters outlining our opposition to the IMF and calling on people to mobilise in opposition. We have heard the widespread anger of local people at this criminal deal with the IMF.
“The support we have received here today from members of the public and passing motorists demonstrates that working class communities will not roll over when faced with the bully boys of the IMF. Over coming months, éirígí activists in Coolock intend to play their part in building local opposition to the IMF and the right-wing agenda that is devastating working class communities.
“While the upcoming general election may change the deckchairs at Leinster House, a Fine Gael-led government will be no different to a Fianna Fáil one. It is time to take to the streets and make our voices heard.”