MICA homeowners from Donegal were among the thousands who took part in the cost- of- living protest in the capital at the weekend.
Mica campaigners, homeowners and all those affected by the defective blocks scandal stood shoulder to shoulder with thousands others demonstrating under the ‘We Need Change’ banner.
Protesters were united against soaring energy prices, the health crisis, the housing emergency and the mica redress scheme.
Outgoing PRO for Mica Action Group, Michael Doherty spoke at the protest, which was also attended by campaigner Paddy Diver. Addressing the crowds in Dublin, Mr Diver said: “We are sick of this government. We all need change.”
The government is coming under renewed pressure to intervene in the cost-of-living crisis after thousands of people descended in Dublin on Saturday, bringing it to a standstill. While no official attendance figures were available, organisers have claimed that more than 20,000 people marched from Parnell Square to a gathering behind Leinster House. Crowds intensified as they made their way up O’Connell Street and past the GPO.
The Cost of Living Coalition demonstration was the largest since the anti-water charge protests in 2014 and 2015.
Donegal TD Thomas Pringle said those taking part brought the message “enough is enough” to the government.
“There was a great turn-out from Donegal and from across the country for the Cost-of-Living Coalition march on Saturday. We have seen the impact of people power on Government before, and now the people of Ireland are demanding effective action on the cost-of-living crisis,” said Deputy Pringle.
“It’s no wonder that people are frustrated and worried. Costs continue to spiral out of control, and we have already heard of households that are worried about having to choose between heating and eating.
“The cost-of-living crisis is affecting every aspect of Irish life and we can see signs of the crisis all around us. Homelessness in this country has risen by more than 30 per cent in the past year. Between April and July of this year, applications for the emergency social welfare payment jumped by more than 10,000. Those payments are for basic necessities – food and clothing, fuel and energy.
“Government will talk about how well the economy is working when we know we have food banks operating in Donegal and across the country. If families are relying on food banks, it should be clear that Government policies are not working.
“None of this should be acceptable, ever. However, this crisis is largely the result of Government policies, from decisions based on an ideology that says this is acceptable.
“We need a Government that represents all our people,” he said.
Meanwhile, launching Sinn Féin’s alternative budget and cost-of-living package on Friday, the party’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD outlined the measures his party would take to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.
The Donegal Deputy said: “A Sinn Féin Government would support households through the winter months by reducing electricity prices, rolling out cost of living payments to assist with other energy costs and protecting the most vulnerable.
“We have also included measures to provide redress for those affected by defective blocks. An issue that has so deeply affected people in Donegal.”
Deputy Doherty said among other measures included in the Budget is an increase in social welfare rates and a guaranteeing of the right to retire on a pension at 65.
“In terms of agriculture, we propose increasing funding significantly this year to provide emergency supports to the sector. We have also included an emergency crisis fund to deal with the problems facing the marine and seafood sector.”
Deputy Doherty said given the soaring cost of fuel currently, Sinn Féin would not proceed with further hikes in carbon tax.
“In 2023, we would deliver an income tax package, put money back in people’s pockets, reduce the cost of fuel, support renters and shield lower and middle-income households from the impact of inflation. Sinn Féin would give workers and families a break.”