12 Dec 2012

F29 Day of Action 5 Protesters outside the EU Commission offices, Dublin on February 29, European Trade Union Day of Action

The Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has endorsed a proposal to hold a series of major demonstrations on February 9, 2013 to demand a restructuring of Ireland’s debt burden as “a prerequisite for recovery and a necessary condition for the maintenance of social cohesion.”

The demonstrations are to be held in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Limerick and Waterford and are timed to coincide with EU Council of Ministers’ meetings. Ireland will hold the EU Presidency for the first six months  of 2013.

Speaking ahead of the Executive Council meeting , Congress General Secretary David Begg said: “We need to send a very clear and very unambiguous message to Europe: without a serious and significant deal on our debt, there is no prospect whatsoever of a recovery in Ireland. It is as simple and clear as that.

“This is not just about the Anglo promissory note repayment, although we welcome recent Government statements on that problem. Rather, this is about the far bigger burden of some €64 billion of private debt from Irish banks that was transferred - without consultation – onto the shoulders of the Irish people, by order of the European authorities. That unjust burden condemns Ireland to a permanent ‘austerity treadmill’ with no hope of growth or jobs.

“We have already extracted some €28 billion from the economy and made barely an impression on the deficit. The debt is the elephant in the room.

“The trade union movement is organising these protests to allow people from all walks of life to send a clear signal to the Government and Europe: we cannot continue on this senseless path simply to repay debts run up by reckless, private banks,” Mr Begg said.

The proposal endorsed by the Congress Executive Council states that: “After almost five years it is clear that the policy prescription forced upon the Irish Government and people by the EU/ECB/IMF Troika is not the correct course. Moreover, the commitment made at the EU Summit in June, 2012 in relation to the separation of banking and sovereign debt has not been honoured.

"Given these circumstances Congress believes that it is necessary for workers and their families, and young people particularly, to demonstrate to the European Central Bank and to the political leadership of the European Union that restructuring of Ireland’s debt burden is a prerequisite for recovery and a necessary condition for the maintenance of social cohesion. To that end Congress resolves to organise rallies on February 9, in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Limerick and Waterford to coincide with EU Council of Ministers meetings."

Further details of the demonstrations will be announced in the coming weeks.