World Bulletin / News Desk
Tens of thousands of people marched in six cities around Ireland on Saturday to protest against austerity measures, days after the government struck a vital deal on its bank debt.
Prominent trade unionists and opposition members of parliament marched alongside citizens facing a sixth year of cuts since a financial crisis plunged Ireland's banking system into a debt spiral.
A deal with the European Central Bank allowing Ireland to stretch out the cost of bailing out Anglo Irish Bank did not dampen the turnout for the protests, organized weeks in advance by an umbrella group for Irish trade unions.
For protesters struggling with cuts in living standards, mortgage arrears or unemployment, the deal is scant consolation.
"I've no confidence at all in the deal, it won't make any difference to ordinary people," said Alfie Murray, marching in Dublin with his 8-year-old grandson.
"It's the next generation that'll shoulder the cost," he said.
Police said around 50,000 took part in the demonstrations under the banner "Lift the Burden" in Dublin and other cities, although the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), which represents nearly a fifth of Ireland's 3.1 million electorate, put the figure at over 110,000.
The largest protest took place in the capital, where police said up to 25,000 people took part - a large demonstration by Irish standards.
Marches organized in Cork and Sligo had an estimated turnout of 6,000, according to police, while protests in Limerick, Galway and Waterford attracted crowds of about 2,000.
Ireland's bank debt deal, announced last week, saw the cost of bailing out Anglo Irish stretched out over 40 years rather than 10, cutting Ireland's borrowing needs by 20 billion euros over the next decade.
"The jury is out on this deal," SIPTU trade union president Jack O'Connor told Reuters.
"We anticipated a lower turnout because of it, but went ahead as planned because people clearly want to know what these agreements actually mean for them day-to-day," he said.
David Begg, the general secretary of the ICTU addressing the crowd in Dublin, said it was hugely unfair that Irish people had paid 42 percent of the European banking debt burden, drawing widespread applause from protesters.
"It would be fatal for people to believe this issue is now resolved and we can all move on," he said.
In the crowd, a large number of public sector workers, frustrated by cuts in their basic pay and additional workplace demands, expressed anger at government plans to make further cuts in the sector.
"They want us to pay all their bills and we're getting tired of it now," said Patrick Healey, 57, a teacher who has seen his wages cut by 700 euros per month, or about 20 percent, in the last five years.
The Ministry of Finance said that Denmark has written to China to "announce its intention to apply to be a founding member" of the AIIB.
Experts state that the crisis poses risks to the region, which is significant for oil production and exports in the world.
Federal Reserve removes word 'patient;' interest rate increase expected within months. Yellen says timing of rate rise 'not decided,' but will come anytime after April; holds current rates at 0 to 0.25 pct.
Many emerging-market currencies have fallen against the dollar in recent weeks
Anticipated Federal Reserve interest rate hikes making dollar strong against most emerging market currencies, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan says.
European Statistical Agency says slight decline fuelled by drop in production of durable consumer goods.
EU will use all its foreign policy instruments to establish strategic energy partnerships with producing and transit countries.
Dollar strength and waning investor confidence are driving the lira lower
Greece has already received two bailouts totalling 240 billion euros but fellow euro zone member Ireland said last week that it would have to negotiate a third programme.
The Ukraine crisis has tested the loyalties of Bulgaria, a Balkan country with historical ties to Moscow and heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies.
Syria expels three United Nations aid workers hindering aid development in the country
Russia has overcome a "psychological barrier" and is ready to deepen its economic ties with China, Deputy Prime MinisterArkady Dvorkovich said
With Chancellor Angela Merkel's right-left coalition plus the opposition Greens, it was the biggest majority for any euro zone rescue package so far in the 631-seat chamber.
The agreement commits Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to cooperate with the United States in customs issues, ease red tape at borders, reduce customs wait times and harmonize trade standards.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has unnerved China with his re-examination of certain projects that Chinahas invested in, including a $1.5 billion "port city" project in Colombo.
EU energy chief Maros Sefcovic invited Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Demchyshyn for talks