The ICTU leadership was sent a clear message from the massive crowd at the march on Saturday. Business award winner Jack O’Connor and former banker David Begg were roundly heckled and booed by the audience at the GPO as they gave speeches from the podium.
ICTU’s carefully laid plans had ensured that the crowd close to the podium were ICTU faithful – no doubt paid union employees there to act as the Praetorian guard for the media.
Irish Times correspondent Mary Fitzgerald ?tweeted? that Jack even had ‘Surrender Monkey’ yelled at him as he bungled his speech. The manner of his hasty retreat was reminiscent of the public booeing that led to the downfall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceau?escu in 1989.
Begg was on stage a little later and left equally ashen faced.
Strangely, the widespread booing and jeering from the crowd was only mentioned in passing in an Irish Times report which ?included the line “Along with speeches from union leaders, some of whom were booed, musicians Christy Moore and Frances Black also performed.“ The Sunday Times reported that O’Connor and Begg were “loudly heckled” and that angry marchers shouted “get off the stage”. The Irish independent today said “As they spoke of the politicians’ failings, cries of “You’ve sold out” and “You’re in bed with them” could be heard from angry protesters on the packed O’Connell Street.” Footage here from the front of the stage shows some of the reactions to O’Connor’s speech, as well as ICTU stewards harassing a journalist trying to cover it. RTE made no mention of the heckling.
The public haranguing of the ICTU beards was in sharp contrast to the thundering applause for all of the other speakers and it is generating a lot of interest on the usual discussion boards, political world, twitter, and facebook.
Like all of the insiders in the Great Irish Banking Fraud, the ICTU gang are entirely removed from those that they supposedly represent. Social partnership benefited the top brass in the unions in return for their co-operation in pacifying the membership.
Credibility was stretched to breaking point today when Jack O’Connor came on to the platform with his usual empty rhetoric and no proposal for action. O’Connor and Begg are already in ‘talks’ with the IMF and will agree to ‘Social Austerity Partnership’ (as discussed in an earlier post here).
So now the union leadership, when calling their members to action in street protest and getting huge numbers to attend, finally face the calls of “traitors”, “bluffers” and “surrender monkeys”. The simple fact is that, for all of their solemn intoning of great Irish labour leaders, Begg and O’Connor are far closer to the appellations heaped on them at the march than they are to Larkin and Connolly.