Men walk from Kilkenny to Dublin in protest over lack of jobs for young

The group of protesters from Kilkenny making their way up Kildare Street, Dublin, yesterday. The men were met at Leinster House by Sinn Féin's Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
The group of protesters from Kilkenny making their way up Kildare Street, Dublin, yesterday. The men were met at Leinster House by Sinn Féin’s Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.Photograph: Eric Luke

CÍAN NIHILL

A NINE-DAY protest march by eight men from the southeast ended yesterday when they finally reached Leinster House a little after 2pm.
The men – who had set out from Kilmacow in south Kilkenny – were met at their destination by Sinn Féin’s Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
Mr Ó Caoláin congratulated them on completing their protest and said they had helped “to inspire the people”.
While each of the “Kilmacow eight” had their own specific reasons for marching, they said that they were collectively united in anger over the lack of job prospects for young people in Ireland.
On their march the men carried signs saying “our children are not for export” and “stop the talking and start the walking”.

They presented Mr Ó Caoláin with “the eight demands by the eight walkers” and asked him to take their grievances to other TDs. They also expressed disappointment that no Fianna Fáil Minister had come out to meet them.

Their demands included halving the number of TDs, the abolition of the Seanad, social welfare for the self-employed and the right to vote for Irish emigrants.

One of the protesters, Stephen Tobin, arrived at the gates of Leinster House on crutches after hurting himself on Wednesday.

“I got shin splints and just went through six or seven miles on crutches yesterday [Wednesday] evening and the same all of this [Thursday] morning,” he said.

Despite his injury getting worse all the time, Mr Tobin said that “it was well worth every bit of it” and that he never thought of stopping.

Spokesman for the group John Kavanagh praised the “unbelievable support from all walks of life” that they had received on their walk.

In a speech outside Leinster House, Mr Kavanagh urged people that if they had grievances with the Government to “put that grievance in the ballot box” by voting for an alternative.

“Even though we are very concerned about the future of our nation, we have no doubt that the Irish people are the best people in the world, and the best people in the world deserve to have the best politicians in Leinster House,” he said

“I hope that God will forgive Fianna Fáil and the Green coalition because the men from Kilkenny won’t,” he added.

Aaron Tobin – brother of Stephen – said that despite the changed political situation since they began their march nine days ago, it was all worth it.

“I’d do it again in the morning if I had to. I’d walk a thousand miles to get them out – if it helps get one of them out I’d do it forever,” he said.


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