How many people were at Saturday’s protest?

Last Saturday 50,000 people protested in Dublin against cuts and the IMF/EU bailout… or was it 100,000 people? Or maybe it was 40,000? Or 150,000?

Most media outlets said 50,000 people, or up to 50,000 — including RTE, The Irish Times, and Some said it was below 50,000. Few reported 100,000; The Guardian was one of the main media outlets to do so. Exactly how many people there are at a protest is never an exact science.

The 50,000 figure was sourced from the Gardai on Saturday. The 100,000 figure came from the stage at the march — the unions announced it near the end of the protest, using the Gardai as a source. A figure of 150,000 also came from the stage where a musician announced it without saying a source.

By Monday, the garda estimate was down. “The final figure estimated was between 40,000 and 45,000. We take guidance from local Gardai on the ground in reaching these figures,” said Gerry Kavanagh of the Garda Press Office.

It’s hard to measure the amount of people moving in a march, but the march ended at O’Connell Street where the bulk of the marchers gathered. From photographs and accounts, the following was mapped out around the area of the protest — give or take. We’d be interested in seeing other photographs or video if you think they show a different picture.

View Protest numbers in a larger map

Using an area and distance calculator on Google Maps, the area comes to around 10,000 square meters. It could be a lot lower if you factor in statues, empty spaces, barriers etc. But let’s use 10,000 square meters as a guide given that’s the best estimate we can can come up with from the pictures we’ve seen (rooftop and aerial photographs in Sunday papers and on websites and posted via Twitter).

Put two people per square meter and you get 20,000 people. Three and you get 30,000. Four — it’s getting squashed here — and you have 40,000. 50,000 or above in that space would be only achievable if everybody was as close as you get in a packed nightclub or commuter train — that’s not what photographs show. 100,000 people in that space is highly unrealistic.

Around 40,000 seems right, 45,000 seems high. The most reported number of 50,000 seems at the very high end but Irish media outlets got flack over it.

JUST TO ADD: 40,000 still seems quite a good turnout given the poor road conditions due to the cold weather.

IMAGE: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by infomatique

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