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TD Richard Boyd Barrett calls for general strike by March

TD Richard Boyd Barrett believes we need to have a nationwide strike to challenge the government. The Daily Shift’s Aaron Mc Nicholas reports…

Anti-Austerity Protest In Dublin (Ireland) - 24 November 2012

A Socialist Workers Party sign calling for a general strike at the anti-austerity protest in Dublin last November

A 24-hour general strike should aim to grind the country to a halt and challenge the wealthy in Irish society, according to People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett.

Mr Barrett said that the strike should take place by the end of March and should include a million people from all around the country. He added that the aim of the participants should be to bring the current government down within six months.

“The groups that really wrote the budget, that [the Taoiseach] does listen to…one of the most influential is the Clearing House Group,” claimed Mr Barrett.

He added that this group includes State Street Corporation, the Bank of Ireland and the International Financial Services Centre.

“They are in a committee that meets six times a year and is chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach,” said Mr Barrett. “That’s the level of access they have. The only thing you can hit back with is the same level of determination and organisation that these people have.”

22% of Irish households include a jobless adult, according to a report published this week by the Economic and Social Research Institute. Mr Barrett pointed to the ERSI figure as evidence that Ireland is in a worse economic situation than Greece.

The unemployment rate in Greece stood at 26% in September. Meanwhile, 14.6% of Irish people are unemployed according to the most recent findings by the Central Statistics Office. However, only 7.5% of Greek households included a jobless adult in 2010.

“The reason you can have that is that our society is much more unequal,” said Mr Barrett. “The poverty is much more heavily concentrated. So there are vast [areas] of the country where there is no work.”

Support for a general strike should be built up by participating in the series of national anti-austerity demonstrations being proposed for February 9 by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, according to Socialist Workers Party member James O’Toole.

Mr O’Toole expressed confidence in the success of industrial action by pointing to the general strike that took place in Spain on November 14. On that occasion, tens of thousands demonstrated against austerity in Madrid.

“The Indignant movement happened in Madrid,” Mr O’Toole observed. “The Indignant movement was the movement where 1,500 squares all over Spain were occupied by young, unemployed people.”

Mr O’Toole added that he felt that the Irish had suffered just as much as the Spanish and the Greeks, so a strike in Ireland could be successful.

A Labour Party councillor from Cork city, Denis O’Flynn, said that he along with many others were disappointed in last week’s budget. However, he does not feel a general strike would benefit any groups in Irish society.

“I don’t know what it’s going to solve,” said Cllr O’Flynn. “There was a march last Saturday and [Cork city] was closed for half a day. Coming up to Christmas, people were livid.”

Cllr O’Flynn added that a general strike would only bring the country into more debt. “You’re going to affect businesses, and more jobs will be lost.” he said.

Protesters are planning to picket Cllr O’Flynn’s clinic in Cork this evening, following a decision made at a People Before Profit meeting in the area last night.

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.com.
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About Aaron Mc Nicholas

Aaron Mc Nicholas is a journalism graduate from Dublin City University. He has written articles for websites such as The Daily Shift, One Way Japan, Sino NK and TheJournal.ie. Most recently he was a researcher for LMFM Radio in Co Louth.

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