Press Conference for Week of Protest & Solidarity

A joint press conference of different left groups building for the June 26th protest as part of the Europe-Wide week of protest was organised earlier this week. Here we report on the key points raised.

Watch the video of all the introductions given at the press conference here, to find out more about the protest, check out our lead article.

Joe Higgins MEP set out the background to the European Week of protest.

“On the initiative of members of the European United Left Group(GUE/NGL) in the European Parliament, the week of June 21 to 26 is marked out for ‘Protest and Solidarity’ action in many EU countries in opposition to the policies of national governments and of the EU Commission.

“At the present time, in response to the economic crisis, and at the behest of the speculators and bondholders in the financial markets, working people in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland are being subjected to savage attacks on wages, pensions, living standards generally and public services.

“The Europe wide action is to indicate that the people in the different countries of Europe should not be picked off in isolation but can stand in solidarity in rejecting these attacks and demanding fundamentally different policies.

“The Left MEPs have outlined a number of basic points around which they are calling on working people, pensioners, the unemployed, communities and their organizations to campaign. These are:

  • Workers, pensioners, the unemployed, students, youth and those socially excluded must not pay for the crisis which they did not cause – Make the super rich and bankers pay
  • Solidarity with the working people of Greece, Spain and Portugal and for the unity of working people across Europe.
  • No to cutbacks, wage cuts, unemployment and increases in the retirement age
  • No to privatisation of public services
  • Stop the bailouts of the banks – nationalise the banks and financial institutions in the interests of working people

“Despite their disagreements over the exact terms of the Greek bailout and other matters the EU Commission and the governments of the various member states always speak with one voice when they say that workers, young people and the unemployed must pay for the economic crisis.

“Working people across Europe must also speak with one voice when confronted by attacks from their governments egged on by the EU Commission.

“In Ireland our action this will take the form of a national demonstration on Saturday 26th June at 1pm beginning at the Central Bank Plaza which will proceed to the EU Commission Offices on Molesworth Street before finishing at Anglo Irish bank in Stephen’s Green.”This initiative has already been endorsed by almost the entire political left in Ireland and a campaign for trade union and trades council endorsement as well as the support of community based campaigns against the cuts is well underway.

“The protest will lay down a marker that working people across the borders can make common cause against the imposition of more of the economic policies being imposed from those responsible for the crisis in the first place.”

The Press Conference was also addressed by Representatives from the Socialist Party, Councillor Richard Boyd Barrett (People Before Profit Alliance), Councillor Ciaran Perry (Independent), Malachy Steenson of the Workers’ Party, Mark Malone of the Workers Solidarity Movement, and Ursula  Ní Shionnáinof éirígí.

Cllr Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance said:

“It is vitally important that working people and their organisations in this country and across Europe act together to resist the onslaught of attacks being unleashed by the political, banking and corporate elites of Europe – the same elites, who created the current crisis by promoting “light touch regulation,” financial speculation and privatisation.

“The prescriptions of Europe’s masters for dealing with the crisis are not only deeply unfair but they are also economically insane. Their slash and burn policies will not aid recovery but deepen the recession – increasing unemployment and injustice, further deflating the economy and accelerating the downward spiral. Incredibly, even after all that has occurred, the madmen running the Irish economy and that in Europe are still promoting privatisation when this policy lies at the heart of crisis we now face.  As ever, their economic policies are all about protecting the wealthy at the expense of society as a whole – even now seeking only to profit from the disaster created by their own greed.

“It is time for ordinary people across Europe to rise up against the banking, corporate and political elites responsible for the economic disaster we now face. We must insist that protecting the jobs, living standards and public services of working people takes priority over bailing out the banks and super-wealthy few. We need a root and branch challenge to the “for profit” economy and must demand a democratic and rational economy that is planned in the interests of society as a whole. Only people power on the streets of this country and across Europe can avert further economic calamity and ensure real social justice. Its time for working people of the so-called PIGS to take to the streets against the real PIGS – the corporate and financial elites that still have their snouts firmly buried in the trough.”

Councillor Cieran Perry (Independent) representing the Cabra Ward of Dublin City Council said:

“As a Councillor representing an area which has disproportionately suffered under this Government, I know only too well the affects of the mismanagement of the economy.

“With public services under attack, with social welfare under attack, with low paid public servants under attack, a working class constituency such as Dublin Central will feel the pain. The people I represent didn’t get this country into the current mess so why are they expected to pay for the crisis? While the very people who were responsible for destroying the economy, the bankers and the golden circle of Fianna Fáil builders, are being bailed out with tax payers money, the ordinary person is being screwed.

“Hopefully the European wide protest on the 26th June will offer ordinary people a focus for their anger. “