‘We want action’: Cost-of-living crisis protests take place across Ireland

Demonstrators say the Government is not doing enough to ease the pressure on households.
‘We want action’: Cost-of-living crisis protests take place across Ireland

By Cate McCurry, PA

Opposition politicians and campaigners have joined crowds of demonstrators as protests over the cost-of-living crisis take place.

Demonstrations organised by the Cost of Living Coalition got under way in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo.

The group, which is made up of trade unionists, student and pensioner organisations and opposition political parties, has urged the Government to take further action on the cost-of-living crisis.

People gather at Parnell Square in Dublin for a march organised by the Cost of Living Coalition. Photo: PA

Several hundred people took part in the Dublin protest, which started at Parnell Square and made its way to Leinster House.

Among the speakers were Fr Peter McVerry, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, chief executive of the Senior Citizens Parliament Sue Shaw, TD Joan Collins, Beth O’Reilly from the Union of Students in Ireland, and People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett.

Ms McDonald said: “It’s clear that we have a Government that is absolutely out of touch, that has no real appreciation, no real understanding of this cost-of-living crisis.

“No real understanding of what it means to have your back to the wall, what it means not to make the rent or mortgage.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald during the rally in Dublin city centre. Photo: PA

“Families, mothers and fathers who worry about feeding their children, families who will struggle to put new shoes on their children’s feet or a coat on their back come the autumn time.

“Those who will struggle to get their kids back to school, students that are worried sick as they believe they won’t be able to afford their accommodation.

“People are suffering now, we need a response from Government now, we need an emergency budget now.

“If this Government is not prepared to stand with the people, if this Government is not prepared to give you breathing space, then let them make way for a Government that will.”

Richard Boyd Barrett during the march organised by the Cost of Living Coalition. Photo: PA

Mr Boyd Barrett called for an increase in people’s wages and pensions to meet the “spiralling cost of living”.

“We will accept nothing less than that,” he told the crowd. “The vast majority of us here believe it is long time overdue that we get rid of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. They have had 100 years.

“We need a left government that stands up for workers, pensioners and students and ordinary people. Our critical message is to say we are not waiting for a general election, we are not waiting until the budget, we want action now.

“I want to appeal to everyone here, this is the beginning and we need you just as we have done in previous battles, to be the organisers of a mass movement that is going to force this government to protect the rights to housing and protect people’s ability to live.”

Fr Peter McVerry speaking at the rally. Photo: PA

Fr Peter McVerry told the crowd that young people do not want to stay in Ireland because of the excessive cost of living and rent.

“I am in despair. We have had a housing crisis for several decades and it’s simply getting worse,” he said.

“What disturbs me is the lack of any urgency, the lack of any sense of crisis in addressing this problem. We have empty buildings all over this country, lying empty for many years. I see no urgency in bringing them back into use.”

Demonstrations took place in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo. Photo: PA

Ms Shaw said: “We are sending a message to all our politicians, those on the stage and in the Dáil, ignore us at your peril.

“We have people who are trying to manage on a state pension of €253. To live above the poverty you need €291. Successive governments have promised lots.

“Think not just about us as pensioners, they have families, children who can’t afford mortgages and can’t get on the housing ladder or cannot afford a mortgage or pay the one they actually have.”

Independent TD Joan Collins said the public has had enough of the Government’s “dilly-dallying” and “empty promises”.

“We want action, and we want it now,” she said. “We cannot afford to wait until October or January. We are not prepared to wait. The working class are suffering.

“This crisis comes on top of the already high level of poverty in this country.”

Opposition politicians and campaigners joined the demonstrators in rallies protesting over the cost-of-living crisis. Photo: PA

Ms O’Reilly told the crowd that students are fighting for a reduction in the cost of living.

“For students the cost of living has never been low, we have the highest fees in the EU, no affordable accommodation and a huge amount of course costs,” she added.

“On top of these costs, we face the added cost of food, fuel and bills. The student cost of living has increased 25 per cent over the past decade and the Government has done nothing.

“Our right to education is under attack, the Government will brand this country as the land of saints and scholars, but those actively pursuing higher education are priced out year-on-year.

“We are at a breaking point.”

The Government has so far resisted calls for a so-called “mini budget” ahead of the autumn to introduce further measures for families.

It has denied claims that it has been slow to act, highlighting that the steps it has taken to tackle cost-of-living pressures since last October add up to €2.5 billion.

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