Thousands rally in Belfast to challenge the G8 agenda

NI G8 rally

A rally of 5,000 people gathered in Belfast for the Big March on Saturday to challenge the agenda of the world leaders arriving in Northern Ireland for the G8 summit.

Pamela Dooley, UNISON Northern Ireland’s head of organising and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ NI committee chair, gave the keynote address.

“Today is a defining moment in our history”, she said.

“The eight people meeting in Fermanagh are leaders of some of the richest and most powerful countries on the planet. But they do not have our consent to form a gang of eight or nine or 20 in order to force their damaging policies on the rest of us.

“The crises which have swept across Europe – financial, economic and political – are mirrored here,” continued Ms Dooley.

“For our members and their families there is no financial bail-out, only worry about an uncertain future.

“On this island unemployment has risen to unprecedented levels. Almost one-third of the population is classed as economically inactive. They are now under attack from our own government with welfare cuts and health care cuts.

“If we do not succeed in stopping this, then they will be left to subsist at the margins of our society. Many will face premature death. No peace dividend for them. No equality for them. No human rights for them.”


Pam Dooley G8 rally

UNISON’s Pam Dooley addresses the G8 rally.


To deafening cheers from the crowd, Ms Dooley said the trade union movement and civil society had an obligation to stand together and demand a different and better way.

“[The G8 leaders] are the champions of privatisation. Not because it has any economic value – it does not – but because it turns us into consumers of health, education, housing, transport and the environment.

“It takes our public services out of democratic control and reduces us to the status of customers rather than active citizens.

“This is not democracy,” she concluded.