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Protest in Ireland of government handling of economy

  • Story Highlights
  • Up to 120,000 people attended the peaceful protest; no arrests made
  • Protest includes workers from two firms facing economic problems
  • Govt says economy hit with the most "profound" global economic crisis in 70 years
  • Troubles due in large part to a sharp drop in the housing and construction markets
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(CNN) -- Hundreds of thousands of workers filled the streets of Dublin on Saturday to protest the government response to Ireland's economic downturn.

Up to 120,000 people attended the peaceful demonstration that included a march from Parnell Square to Merrion Square, Dublin police said. No arrests were made, police said.

The protest was organized by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU). Workers from Waterford Crystal and SR Technic, two companies facing economic problems amid the recession, led the march.

Ireland's economy was booming until last year when it was hit with the most "profound global economic crisis in seventy years," due in large part to a significant decline in the housing and construction markets, according to the government's Web site.

David Begg, general secretary of ICTU, told CNN affiliate TV3 that he hopes "the government is looking at what's happening here today and will conclude indeed that it does have a strong measure of public support and will engage with us and try to deal with what is an unprecedented problem with our country."

In a message posted on ICTU's Web site, Begg said this was the first action in the union group's campaign "and other action will follow around the country, as required."

The ICTU has posted 10 key initiatives for a plan for national recovery on its Web site, including protecting jobs, tackling unemployment and restoring consumer confidence.

Ireland's government responded to the ICTU's plan, saying it was "entirely consistent" with that of its own proposal.

"In particular, it reflects the Government's view that an integrated national response to the current crisis is not only desirable but essential if there is to be a sufficient impetus and coherence of approach to meet the scale of the challenge," the government statement said.

The government recognizes that "the measures which it is taking are difficult and, in some cases, painful," and "is also convinced, however, that they are both necessary and fair," the statement said.

CNN's Phillip Warrington and Katy Byron contributed to this report

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