|Thousands of demonstrators march through Dublin to protestagainst |
budget cuts and an EU-IMF bailout. Photograph: Peter Morrison/AP
Despite overnight snow storms and freezing temperatures, huge crowds have gathered in O'Connell Street to demonstrate against the cuts aimed at driving down Ireland's colossal national debt.
So far the march has passed off peacefully although there is a huge Garda presence with up to 700 officers on duty working alongside 250 security guards for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
Among the marchers there is deep anger that most of the more than €80bn (£67bn) from the EU and the International Monetary Fund will be given to shore up Ireland's ailing banks.
Marching in the rally was Irish builder Mick Wallace who has had to lay off 100 workers due to the crash in the construction industry. Wallace said it was time the Irish became more militant.
"We should be more like the French and get onto the streets more often. Because our politicians go over to Europe and tell the EU that our people do not demonstrate, they don't take to the streets. It's time we changed that and openly opposed what is going on," he said.
Placards carried by the marchers reflect the mood of anger and humiliation at having to be bailed out by the EU and IMF. One was designed to look like an estate agent's billboard and read: "3,599 square miles For Sale. Full Planning Permission Granted".
The protest has not halted at the GPO in Dublin, the scene of the 1916 rising where trade unionists and workers are denouncing the government's cost cutting programme which will take €15bn out of the Irish economy over the next four years.