Government TDs returning to the Dáil after summer recess today faced angry protests against the State’s National Asset Management Agency (Nama) scheme and allegations of a bail-out for financial institutions.
The Labour Party joined forces with union members outside Leinster House to voice their dissent as politicians discussed the Nama plan.
Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton said the debate marked a red letter day for Irish democracy and called for the proposals to be scrapped.
“The Government are threatening today to massively overpay for the bad loans and the toxic debt of the banks, and that just means there’s a huge transfer of the debt to ordinary citizens,” she said.
“I say take the banks into temporary nationalisation, sort them out and get credit and money flowing again.”
Around 200 union members from Siptu and the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) also took part in the demonstration.
Siptu national industrial secretary Gerry McCormack said the protest sent out a clear message that the country did not want Nama.
“People are angry. They don’t understand why the people of this country are being threatened every day with their jobs and we have these people, the bankers and speculators, being bailed out by the Government,” he said.
“If we’re going to pay for the bailout of these banks then we should at least own them.”
Earlier, protesters from the United Alliance Against Cuts (UAAC) gathered at Leinster House and vowed to continue demonstrations against Nama.
Activists dressed as bankers in gold suits stood at the gates of the building, bearing wads of fake cash and tricolour flags which read “Ireland for Sale”.
UAAC spokesman Richard Boyd Barrett said the protests would continue until the Nama scheme was abandoned.
“There’s daylight robbery going on in the building behind us – the Government take billions of public money and pour it into these banks and developers,” he said.
“We’re going to be escalating our protests until this crazy Nama plan is off the agenda and the responsibility is laid at the door of the people who put us in this crisis in the first place.”