Dublin was brought to a standstill today as up to 70,000 people took to the streets as part of a national day of protest.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) organized eight rallies across Ireland to protest against the $4bn in public cuts expected in the Irish budget on December 9.

The rallies took place in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Sligo, Tullamore and Dundalk with Dublin by far the largest.

ICTU leader David Begg said a "more gentle way" was needed to narrow the fiscal deficit to 3  percent by 2013.

He slammed the planned cuts as "economic madness," and said they would stall any economic recovery and send the country "into a prolonged coma."

Jack O'Connor, the president of the services trade union Siptu blasted the Government for targeting the ordinary people of Ireland over the rich.

“We will not go away, we will not roll over, we will not surrender regardless of what they do,” he said.

"We insist the people at the top of society pay their contribution and that is the only solution to this particular issue.”

The Dublin Fire Brigade took part in the protest and chairman John Kidd said the government had  been "extremely unfair with the ordinary workers."

"We have never benefited from the 'Celtic Tiger'," he said. "We are asking the government for a fairer society." 

Kidd is one of the roughly 100,000 emergency workers who will next week vote on a 24-hour strike on November 24. 

The huge numbers at the rallies today will boost the hopes of union organizers who are planning the national strike.