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article imageDozens of Irish demonstrators protest, clash with police (video)

By Andrew Moran     Nov 23, 2010 in World
Dublin - A large group of Irish demonstrators protested the government's handling of the economic crisis that currently plagues the nation. Protestors attempted to force their way into a security area at the government buildings in Dublin.
For weeks, the government of Ireland denied that they were seeking an emergency bailout from the International Monetary Fund or the European Union and claimed they were fully funded until the middle of next year.
It was no secret that the global financial meltdown resulted in Ireland’s public finances dramatically eroding – Ireland is part of the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain). The government had spent large sums of money in order to prop up the nation’s banking sector.
Presently, the Irish government maintains a budget deficit of about $21 billion but is implementing austerity measures. Its goal is to save $20 billion between 2011 and 2014. This savings measure has already led to protests in Ireland; much like the nations who are introducing austerity plans.
On Monday, according to the Irish Times, a group of about 50 demonstrators, including Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh, protested outside government buildings in Dublin during lunchtime, shouting: “Cowen, Cowen, Cowen. Out, out, out!” (referring to Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen.)
Ireland: Protest against government austerity measures.
Ireland: Protest against government austerity measures.
News footage shows the protestors clashing with a gardai (an individual police officer). The gardai attempted to push back the vehement protestors as they were trying to get through to the secured area but the activists were “stopped in their efforts.”
Police then took out their batons and hit protestors who tried to stage a sit-in. One man was allegedly struck across the legs by one of the officers. The man said there was “a fair amount of pushing and shoving.”
The group made as far as the glass-walled reception building inside the government building gates, which was followed by a five minute sit-down protest. Officers escorted the demonstrators out. Police vans and motorcycles attended to the scene. There have been no reports of arrests.
O Snodaigh is urging the government to call an election because its social cuts were not part of its mandate: “The Government should now publish its four plan, call an immediate general election and let the people decide.”
In celebration of St. Patrick s Day  Taoiseach of Ireland Brian Cowen laughs with President Barack O...
In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, Taoiseach of Ireland Brian Cowen laughs with President Barack Obama after giving him a bowl of shamrocks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
Lawrence Jackson, White House photographer
The Globe and Mail reports that members of the Prime Minister’s Fianna Fail Party have called for his resignation and withdrawal of support from the Green Party. Instead, Cowen has announced the pending dissolution of government: There will be a time for political accountability to the electorate,” said the Irish Prime Minister.
Green Party leader, John Gormley, is also calling for an early election:
“The past week has been a traumatic one for the Irish electorate. People feel misled and betrayed,” said Gormley, reports Finance Markets. “We have now reached a point where the Irish people need political certainty to take them beyond the coming two months. So, we believe it is time to fix a date for a general election in the second half of January 2011.”
Can the government even survive that long, though? A by-election will occur on Thursday and will reduce the coalition’s majority. Furthermore, a vote on the budget on Dec. 7 will be a determining factor as to whether or not the Prime Minister‘s government will fail.
Despite the protests, electoral dissatisfaction and allies disappointed over his leadership, the Prime Minister said on Sunday, reports the London Telegraph: “I don't accept that I'm the boogeyman. What I will not accept from any political opponent is the charge of treason.”
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