Belfast Telegraph

Debt demo 'for all the family'

A mass protest calling on Europe to ease Ireland's debt burden will be family friendly, organisers have insisted.

Up to 100,000 people are expected to march against austerity in rallies across Ireland next Saturday.

The demonstrations, arranged by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu), have been described as a last-ditch attempt to appeal for a deal on the country's crippling 64 billion euro debt burden.

Ictu assistant general secretary Sally Anne Kinahan urged protesters to bring their children along, warning it is future generations that will be saddled with the debt. "We are encouraging families to participate, because ultimately this is about an unfair debt that will be passed on to our children and our grandchildren," Ms Kinahan said.

She said Ictu wanted to ensure those taking part in the march could do so in a "safe, friendly and entertaining atmosphere".

Six marches have been organised - in Dublin, Cork, Sligo, Limerick, Galway and Waterford. The largest turnout is expected in the capital, where Ms Kinahan said a range of comedy, rap, punk poetry, reggae and pop acts are to provide entertainment.

Last week, Ictu general secretary David Begg warned there would be "dire consequences" for future generations if action is not taken to ease Ireland's debt burden. He said European institutions must honour a pledge made last June to separate bank and sovereign debt, and restructure the controversial promissory note repayments.

Ireland is due to pay 3.1 billion euro of its outstanding 28 billion euro promissory note debt on March 31. It is just one lump of a total 31 billion euro secured from Europe by the last government and used to recapitalise the failed former Anglo Irish Bank - now called the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

A delegation from the congress will meet officials from the Troika - made up of Ireland's debt masters the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Commission. They hope to discuss the country's finances at the meeting on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Dublin protest will assemble from 1.30pm on February 9 at Cook Street. Organisers said the entertainment would begin when the march reaches Merrion Square. Comedian Barry Murphy, musician Mundy and punk poet Jinx Lennon are among those due to perform at the event. Entertainment has also been lined up for the five other rallies, which will be announced later in the week.

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