50,000 Turn Out To Protest Against Government Handling Of Irish Bailout

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"What hurts me the most is why is the taxpayer paying for the IMF. Why are we bailing out the banks. These are the people who took the risk, let them take the hurt, let them feel the hurt." That is the common refrain of the tens of thousands of people who took to the streets today in Dublin, protesting against the government's rescue of various European banks (and Goldman Sachs) investment losses. More from RTE: "Gardaí said that around 10,000 people started the march, however the
crowd swelled to around 50,000 people as it moved down the quays. Speakers at the march had estimated that the crowd was between 100,000 and 150,000. A small group of around 400 protestors are currently at the front gates of Leinster House. Some 60 gardaí are lining the footpath in front of the building, with crash barriers erected in front of them."

Luckily, so far the demonstrations are peaceful. However, the message sent to Brian Cowen is loud and clear: get out, and take your bailout plan with you.

More from the Telegraph:

The rally was the first major demonstration since Ireland agreed to accept a €90 billion (£77 billion) loan from the European Union and International Monetary Fund to save the country from bankruptcy.

People are very unhappy, and this is their last chance to protest before the budget," said Pat Kenny, a 45-year-old postal worker and labour union official, distributing bright blue banners as the march began.

"But today is just the start of a campaign against the plan. This government doesn't have a mandate to govern, they should allow for a general election and let the public say if they are in favour of the four-year plan."

Thousands of marchers — led by a traditional pipe band — crowded along the banks of Dublin's River Liffey, banging drums and blowing whistles.

Banners carried slogans including "It's not out fault, we must default," and "No country for young men," a reference to the squeeze on jobs.

As part of the crisis negotiations, Ireland published a plan this week to slash €15 billion from its deficits over the next four years, with the harshest cuts and tax hikes earmarked for the next budget being published Dec. 7.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen has admitted that the slashing will lower the living standards of everyone in this country of 4.5 million.

But he insists Ireland has no choice given that the nation's 2010 deficit is running at 32 per cent of GDP, the highest in Europe since World War II.

Saturday's rally coincides with reports that the EU-IMF fund could charge interest rates of up to 6.7 per cent, higher than the 5.2 per cent that applied to Greece's €110 billion bail-out in May.

And a video report on the scene, via RTE: