Several thousand people have gathered for a protest march in Dublin city centre against the rising cost of living with the unifying message: “prices are rising, so are we”.
Onlookers and attendees began gathering at the Garden of Remembrance north of O’Connell Street from after 1pm.
An eclectic gathering, representative of the broad-strokes Cost of Living Coalition which had organised the protest, the buildup to the march took place in glorious late September sunshine.
The march itself eventually set off for Merrion Square just after 3pm. Speeches from representatives of the multitude of groups present were still being delivered as the marchers went on their way.
Some present from the beginning had been slightly underwhelmed regarding the earlier size of the crowd which had gathered, believing it to be in the region of 2,000 people.
However the gathering continued to grow in size steadily as the march began – by 3.30pm it stretched more than the length of O’Connell Street and was still growing. Best estimates were that the total headcount likely approached 10,000, though many of those present argued it was far larger.
The atmosphere throughout was a relatively amiable one, with little sign of agitators among the gathered masses. There was also a seeming lack of visible anger among the crowd, perhaps a product of its diverse nature.
However, many of the placards present told a more aggressive story – with the landlords of Ireland in particular coming in for a deal of abuse.
The coalition had taken the interesting step of bookending the march with speeches both at its beginning on the city’s northside and again at a stage next to Government Buildings, where a near-voiceless compere Richard Boyd Barrett served to raise the temperature of the crowd.
If the Government don’t deliver on a price cap for energy in Tuesday’s budget, he said, “then we’ll be back on the streets again very soon – and in far greater numbers”.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the speech of the leader of the largest opposition party Mary Lou McDonald brought out the crowd’s voice.
“This is a mighty afternoon, people rising up in kindness,” she said. “Everyone deserves a good and secure life. Today we say we will not settle for anything less.”
“If the Government didn’t hear you before today, let me tell you, they will hear you now,” she said.
Perhaps the most affecting speech however came from 12-year-old wheelchair user Sophia Mulvany.
“When you were 12, did you know what a health crisis was, or a housing crisis, or a cost of living crisis?” she asked the crowd.
“Because I do,” she said. “I have friends who call a hotel their home, or a hub their home. And it all comes down to silly adults and their selfish actions. Is this the kind of future you want for your kids?”
In terms of housing meanwhile, the crowd heard from veteran advocate Fr Peter McVerry, who asked rhetorically of young Irish people, “why would they stay in Ireland?”
“They were told the Government would look after you,” he said. “Now young people know it was a lie. They were scammed.”