A massive protest against the bank debt and the one-sided austerity policies imposed by the EU/ECB/IMF troika on Irish workers and their families will take place during a national Day of Action on Saturday 9th February. Unions and civic society organisations are calling on everyone affected by the crushing debt burden and the associated jobs crisis, the steady emigration of our young people and increasing poverty to turn out for marches and rallies at six venues across the country. The protests called by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will highlight the unsustainable €64 billion debt which will hang around the necks of generations of Irish people for decades to come unless the burden is lifted. Already, the Irish tax-payer has forked out €41 billion (not including millions raided from the National Pensions Reserve Fund) as a result of the collapse of the financial and banking system with many more billions still owed. Recent figures have established that the Irish people have taken on an incredible 40% of the total cost of the bank crisis across the EU. Each Irish citizen has paid some €9000 compared with an EU average of €190 per person (See page 19). The glaring disparity between the pain inflicted on the Irish people, with less than 1% of the total population of the EU, (and just 1.2% of its GDP) and the contribution from many other, richer, states will be forcefully explained to the troika delegation when it meets with Congress leaders in Dublin in the coming days. Congress will also protest at the manner in which European and other international banks and finance houses that recklessly lent money to the poorly regulated Irish financial sector to fuel a property boom have been the main beneficiaries of the punishing debt repayments that have crippled the economy. It will also warn that simply extending the repayment schedule over a longer time period, of decades rather than years, will not resolve the problem but merely push it on to the shoulders of future generations of Irish working people. At present, the cost of bank debt repayments and the associated austerity policies have prevented any prospect of economic recovery. The Government has claimed that it is close to a deal on the Anglo Irish promissory notes which currently cost the State €3.1 billion plus interest each year for ten years and on securing assistance towards the multi-billion cost of recapitalising the surviving banks but whatever emerges from its discussions will almost certainly not be enough. It will require a powerful message from workers and their families to drive the message home to the troika, other EU governments and working people across Europe that only a comprehensive write-down of Ireland’s debt burden can save the economy from decades of recession, if not total collapse.  On Saturday 9th February you have a chance to Join the Protests and send the message loud and clear – ‘Lift the Burden – Jobs not Debt’.