The cost-of-living march in Dublin on Saturday will be the biggest protest that has been held in the capital since the mass water charges rallies in 2014 and 2015, its organiser has said.
Eddie Conlan has said he expects many thousands of people to attend the protest, which involves more than 30 organisations, including Opposition political parties and trade unions.
There has been an intense social media campaign in recent days to ensure the turnout is high. The protest has been timed for a few days before Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath publish Budget 2023. The Government has promised generous measures to help individuals and households meet soaring costs and bills, including a once-off cost-of-living package which might run as high as €3 billion.
Organisers of the anti-water charges demonstration in August 2015 said that as many as 80,000 attended but the actual figure was not independently verified.
Mr Conlan, a member of People Before Profit, said he did not expect the numbers to be as high as in 2015 for this march, but said they would certainly be in their thousands and much higher than an earlier event this year. In June, 2,000-3,000 people marched in the cost-of-living protest through the streets of Dublin.
Speaking in advance of the event this week, Richard Boyd-Barrett of People Before Profit said: “Seventy per cent of people say they are struggling to make ends meet. The same number do not believe the Government is doing all it can to improve the situation.
“We need huge numbers on the street to send a clear message to the Government that radical measures are necessary to deal with the cost-of-living and housing crisis.”
The demonstration is being supported by the main Opposition party, Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, the Social Democrats and also the Socialist Party. The Labour Party has not signed up to the coalition although members and some of its branches will take part. It is understood that its decision not to participate was taken earlier this year and related to differences over carbon tax.
The main speakers will include Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry, USI president Beth O’Reilly, Imelda Browne of the Senior Citizens’ Parliament, as well as senior figures from Ictu and Siptu. The event will be chaired by Richard Boyd-Barrett.
The group has agreed to campaign for the following demands: control energy costs; protect incomes; make housing affordable; invest in public services; and share the wealth.
There are differences of emphasis and approach between the players involved. At an event to publicise the protest earlier this week, Ms McDonald said she did not agree with Mr Boyd-Barrett’s call for energy companies to be nationalised.