Portuguese police protest at parliament over cuts

A demonstrator shouts after breaking through a line of policemen guarding the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon 21 November. The off-duty police officers sang the Portuguese anthem and chanted anti-government slogans before dispersing

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Several thousand off-duty Portuguese police officers have demonstrated on the steps of parliament against cuts.

The officers broke through a cordon of riot police to reach the doors of parliament, where they sang the national anthem and chanted anti-government slogans, before dispersing.

The organisers say budget cuts do not just mean reduced police pay, but are also a risk to national security.

The government says the police cannot be immune from austerity measures.

The demonstration was called by various police associations, including Portugal's paramilitary National Republican Guard, border agents, prison guards and the maritime police.

The off-duty officers made repeated attempts to breach the security cordon around parliament in Lisbon, although there were no direct confrontations with the riot police.

Bailout commitment

Some shook hands with on-duty police officers, before being allowed to climb the steps of the building and reaching the main entrance doors.

Demonstrators try to approach the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon on 21 November Police say the ongoing austerity measures are a risk to national security

They sang the national anthem and called for the government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho to resign.

In 2011 Portugal agreed to carry out a sustained programme of reforms and cuts in return for a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund worth 78bn euros ($105bn or £65bn).

Police associations in Portugal say public sector austerity measures have led to police pay cuts and reduced pensions. They also say they are worried that ongoing cuts will damage the operational capabilities of the security forces.

On Wednesday, Interior Minister Miguel Macedo said police could not be exempt from the sacrifices suffered by the rest of Portuguese society in order to meet the demands of its international creditors.

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