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Thousands March to 'Lift the Burden' of Austerity in Ireland

Teacher: 'They want us to pay all their bills and we're getting tired of it now'

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

(Photo @kierfoley via twitter)

Over 100,000 Irish citizens took to the streets Saturday in protest of six years of severe austerity cuts and rocketing costs of living since the financial crisis plunged the country's banking system into an endless debt spiral.

Organized by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), 'Lift the Burden' demonstrations were held across the island country in cities including Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford, with some 60,000 marching in the capital alone.

Speaking at the Dublin rally, ICTU General Secretary David Begg said that it was "hugely unfair that Irish people had paid 42 percent of the European banking debt burden."

"Campaign against the debt burden will continue until the European authorities fully honours the agreement reached last July to separate bank debt from sovereign debt," he added.

According to financial adviser Marco Pietropoli, Ireland "ended up with a far bigger bill" than most countries who've had a bailout, causing their citizens "a great deal more" suffering.

"They want us to pay all their bills and we're getting tired of it now," said Patrick Healey, a teacher who has seen his wages cut by about 20 percent in the last five years.

Reuters reports that the demonstrations were held despite a recent bank debt deal with the European Central Bank, "which allows Ireland to stretch out the cost of bailing out Anglo Irish Bank." They write:

For protesters struggling with cuts in living standards, mortgage arrears or unemployment, the deal is scant consolation.

"I've no confidence at all in the deal, it won't make any difference to ordinary people," said Alfie Murray, marching in Dublin with his 8-year-old grandson.

"It's the next generation that'll shoulder the cost," he said.

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