By Nicola Anderson
15,000 elderly and 10,000 young join in day of protest
They came in their thousands, marching as one from all corners of the land.
Disembarking from chartered coaches, mini-buses, cars and trains, they formed a formidable force of 15,000 and prepared to lay siege to their target.
They swept through the streets of the capital with one single goal — to shake Leinster House and deliver a simple message: they will not go quietly.
a sign of how the Budget [Government] has alienated so many, that shortly after the pensioners’ protest reached its climax up to 10,000 third-level students should arrive at the Dail, deeply angered over fees.
Like the pensioners, the students came from everywhere,
It was a remarkable day. The elderly and the young taking to the streets. When have we we ever seen the like? It was a breathtaking sight as our mighty Grey Army mobilised to display a battling spirit few realised
A slumbering beast that the Government must most bitterly regret rousing
But then, these are the people who truly understand that your health really is your wealth — and they were determined to hold on to it,
bond with their peers over their mutual outrage,
And they chatted merrily among themselves as they poured up the city streets in a purposeful wave, banners and placards ablazing.
There were the ill, there were the cancer sufferers, there were people in wheelchairs, rugs over their knees.
Wheelchair-bound Rita Nolan (88) from Castlebar,
“She insisted on coming,” said her daughter Maureen.
the mass turnout of our nation’s elderly was humbling and impressive,
With Molesworth and Kildare streets well and truly filled up in advance of the 12.30pm starting time, the rally began.
Maire Hoctor, the Minister for Older People, her name was uttered to a chorus of jeers and boos
Some 20 minutes later she materialised — but met the same fate as John Moloney had the previous day and was barely allowed to speak amid volleys of ‘Out, Out, Out’ and ‘Lies.’
all Ms Hoctor managed to get in was an apology that they had felt compelled to come. There wasn’t one colleague of hers who did not acknowledge their anger, she said.
She was about to embark on the Government line that 95pc of older people would not be affected by the recent changes to the medical card scheme when the chants grew even more deafening, and she was forced to retire in defeat. The roars of ‘Fianna Fail Out’ could not fail to have been heard along the plush corridors of Leinster House.
As Enda Kenny addressed them [….], the older people chatted among themselves. They were not there for political speeches, they were content merely to attend.
A different placard bore a more heartfelt message: ‘Mr Cowen, you seem to forget we’re the ones who tightened our belts. We gave you our vote. Then where there were no beds, we lay on trolleys. Now you want to take our pills. Do you want [us] to lay down and die?’
Ciaran Cuffe sounded desperate as he pleaded that the Greens had learned their lesson from this, saying: “We will never take you for granted.” Some pensioners chuckled grimly.
“I wouldn’t vote for you,” one woman in the crowd stopped Liz McManus to inform her.
this was the biggest demonstration of ordinary people in our society “for many a long day”
The rally over, Gerald Whyte (70) from Kerry — a certain section of society would rather the old and incapacitated ” dropped down dead”, he said, likening the situation to Nazi Germany.