Cost-of-Living Protest: “You have a choice between heating and eating”

Protest begins at City Hall with music from Melanie Gruben and under the Cost of Living banner Credit: Ellen Cornelius

Protests took place all across the country this weekend under the banner of the Cost-of-Living Coalition

By Ellen Cornelius

Limerick residents came out in force to Merchants Quay on Saturday November 12 to protest the current cost-of-living crisis.

About twenty protests across the country were organised by the Cost-of-Living coalition which is made up of political parties, trade unions, student unions and other civil societies.

Representatives from political parties including the Social Democrats, Sinn Fein, People Before Profit and the Socialist Party attended the protest, while other organisations such as the Community Action Tenants Union (CATU) and the University of Limerick Postgraduate Student Union (PSU) were also there to show support.

One attendee at the protest said: “I’m here today because of the cost-of-living crisis, which is affecting in particular working-class people, people are struggling to survive and are unable to live on the rising energy prices; these prices are increasing because these companies are profiteering, and they’re being allowed to profiteer because the government isn’t stepping in.”

Another attendee said that in today’s climate, “you have a choice between heating and eating.”

In his address, Sinn Fein Senator Paul Gavin urged people to come together in their demands for change.

 “We have a cost-of-living crisis, we have a housing crisis, we have a health crisis, and there all fundamentally and intrinsically linked,” Senator Gavin said.

Echoing Senator Gavin’s remarks, Social Democrats Councillor Elisa O’Donovan told the Limerick Voice that it was heartening to see so many people come out and join in collective action.

“We need to have a collective action in relation to the various crisis’ that we’re facing, like we know that this isn’t just a cost-of-living crisis, it’s a housing crisis, it’s a climate crisis, it’s a health crisis,” she said.

When asked what she felt was the most important thing to take away from today’s protest, Cllr O’Donovan said: “I think the message here today was very clear, that we need a change in policies at a government level and these changes need to invest in public services and not bow to the needs of private businesses and private corporations.”

“I think we really have to work together to tackle it and what needs to change is the system, the system that we are living under, which is a capitalist system, which puts big businesses before the needs of ordinary people that is the system we are living under, and things are never going to improve for ordinary people will we are still living under that system,” she said.

This was a sentiment echoed in many of the speeches given on Saturday afternoon.

People Before Profit’s Limerick City representative Ruairi Fahy in his speech to protestors said, “We have a government that has consistently chosen to back multinational corporations and corporate profits every time.”

Fahy went on to say that: “Now we’re seeing these large tech job loses they weren’t even informed about, and they appear shocked that this has happened, but this is what capital will do in every instance, it will go from place to place and exploit people wherever it can because all they care about is accumulating for themselves instead of all of society.”

Just last week social media giant Twitter announced mass globally layoffs, an announcement that could see more than 50 percent of Twitter’s Irish workforce unemployed.

Find out more about the cost-of-living coalition here.

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