Hundreds of protesters descended on Dublin on Wednesday to protest the Irish government’s plan to continue their austerity program into a sixth year, with the upcoming 2014 budget featuring $4 billion in further cuts and tax hikes.
After protesting in front of Ireland’s government building, Leinster House, on Kildare Street some protesters attempted to take over Dublin’s O’Connell Street Bridge, which snarled up rush-hour traffic. Police were forced to hold down and pepper-spray other protesters who tried to break through barriers at the parliament buildings.
BreakingNews.ie reports that there were 300 people blocking O’Connell Bridge while the protest continued on Kildare Street.
The Irish Times reports that three people in total were arrested and three people were injured and brought to St. James’ Hospital.
Steel barricades had been placed in front of the entrance to the buildings as politicians were arriving for their first debating session following their two-month summer break.
Economists and government ministers are publicly divided over whether those 2014 cuts will go too far. Ireland has performed better-than-expected following its 2010 bailout by the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The AP reports that the protests on Wednesday represented a range of socialist, Irish republican and anti-establishment interest groups. They included Anti-Eviction Ireland, Pensioners Against Cuts, Irish Republican Voice and the People’s Assembly, which consists of trade union, civil society and political organizations.
The protesters bore signs demanding the imprisonment of bankers who were deemed responsible for the 15-year property bubble which caused the 2008 collapse. Their anger was also addressed towards Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, Tániaste Eamon Gilmore, EU authorities in Brussels and mainstream media outlets.
Addressing the crowd earlier, Dominic Gaughan, a protester from County Wexford, said it was time to “overthrow this Government.”
He added, “The Government is living in a bubble while the people suffer through austerity and pain.”