Thousands gather for anti-G8 protests in Northern Ireland
What started as 1,500-strong march to the Belfast City Hall in police estimates, grew into a massive rally in front of the hall after thousands of people accumulated there.
Trade unionists, environmentalists, socialists and rights activists were among those taking part in the protest organized by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and aimed “to challenge the agenda of the G8 leaders.”
The demonstration was marked by strong security presence, with hundreds of police flanking the march’s route, dozens armored vehicles deployed, and several helicopters patrolling the city.
The police have blocked about 100 jeering loyalists, who have been staging a separate rally, along the protest’s way.
Many Belfast shops chose to board up their fronts, fearing the protests could turn violent, but the march went on peacefully.
“Obama and Cameron, you’re not welcome,” the protesters chanted, according to the Guardian.
The ICTU chairperson Pamela Dooley branded the world leaders’ policies “damaging” and anti-democratic.
“The eight people meeting in Fermanagh are leaders of some of the richest and most powerful countries on the planet. They do not have our consent to form a Gang of 8 or 9 or 20 in order to force their damaging policies on the rest of us,” Dooley said.
“This is not democracy. This is not compliance with human rights obligations in our own jurisdiction, let alone around the world. This is hypocrisy and greed which holds the seven billion human beings on this planet in contempt,” she added.
Dooley then urged the trade unions and the whole civil society to “demand a different and better way” and a change from the “consequences of a corrupt capitalist system bereft of moral standards.”
Brian Campfield, the ICTU’s vice-president, said the essence of
the G8 summit is “selfishness and dog eat dog,” adding
that the protesters are sending a message that there is an
alternative to “cut throat capitalism.”
Meanwhile, Patrick Corttigan of Amnesty International called on the Russian government to free the jailed members of Pussy Riot group.
“Belfast is a punk city and here’s a punk message to you – free Pussy Riot,” Corttigan said.
Separate G8-related rallies and events are also due to take place in Northern Ireland ahead of the June 17-18 summit at Fermanagh’s Lough Erne resort, while London has already seen protests and clashes with the police.
At least 8,000 are expected to come to the IF anti food poverty campaign concert in Belfast on Saturday. The charities-backed concert aims to send a message to world leaders about ending world hunger.
The trade unions are also calling “ordinary people refusing to accept what the G8 wants to impose” to join a protest rally in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh on Monday.
Earlier this week, anti-capitalist protesters blaming the banks
and the politicians for the inequality clashed with riot police
in central London. Around 60 arrests were made, RT’s Polly Boiko
reported from the UK’s capital: