Irish People Protest against Austerity Cuts
Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has called for protests against what he called as harshest budget ever since the state was established. Irish Police are expecting at least 50,000 people may participate in the protests. BBC News has reported that thousands of protesters are already gathering on Dublin streets.
The protests come a day after a humiliating defeat for the ruling coalition in a by-poll. The majority for the ruling coalition has been reduced to just two from six seats after the by-election on Friday, November 26. As a result, the Irish Prime Minister is facing pressures to resign as he lost mandate to take any important decisions on Ireland’s future.
The proposed bailout package of 85 billion euros ($114 billion) is coming with costly austerity measures. The government has already delivered a set of austerity cuts for coming four years that include 5% reduction in minimum wages, pension freeze and public sector job cuts of more than 25,000. Most depressingly, the media reports suggest that Ireland might be charged with 6.7 percent interest on bailout loans to prop up crisis hit Irish banks. This is well above the interest rate 5.2 percent charged to Greece bailout.
This suggests that even more interest rate may be charged for other countries like Portugal and Spain that may claim for bailout in future. There is only 6 months gap between Greece and Ireland bailouts for which the interest rate has been raised by 1.5 percent on joint bailout from the EU and IMF. It raises doubts whether the bailouts are offered to help the indebted countries or to cash in the helpless situation.
ICTU president was quoted by AFP as saying, "This is the result of allowing speculators, bankers and developers to run riot, pillaging and ruining our economy." Ironically, instead of making banks responsible for the crisis, the employees and workers are getting punishment in the form of austerity cuts.
Meanwhile, doubts are rising over the sustainability of the ambitious European monetary union. Germans are increasingly angry as more Euro-zone countries are expected to tap the European Financial Stability Fund for which German is the major contributor. Germans are angry that they have to bear the burden of the fiscal indiscipline of the other countries.