In what could well become a harbinger of things to come in the United States, the Irish today marched en masse to protest severe cuts in the form of a pension levy on public sector workers. Teachers, nurses, police officers, civil servants and construction workers are bearing the brunt for an economic collapse, largely brought about by a property bubble which burst, while the largest banks received billions of euros in bailouts or were being forced to nationalize rather than collapse. Reports say "the plan could cost the 350,000 public sector workers between 1,500 euros and 2,800 euros [$3600 US] a year". As one protester put it:
“My family will be down 500 euros ($628.8) a month because my husband and I both work in the public sector,” said Sheila O’Shea, a primary school teacher who was also protesting at education cuts that have hit classes for special needs children.
“There is absolute burning vitriol that we feel at the savage way they have hit the most vulnerable in society.”
(Does any of this sound familiar?)
The so-called Celtic Tiger had the highest GDP growth of any european country throughout most of this decade. In 2009 their economy is projected to actually contract by -4.0%. In a nation of only 4 million, over 1500 lose their jobs each day. January had the highest monthly level of unemployment claims since records began in 1967.