Organisers say weekend water charge protests will be "unprecedented"

Organisers say weekend water charge protests will be 'unprecedented'

Anti-water charges campaigners predict more than 100,000 protesters will be on the streets at 70 demonstrations around the country this Saturday.

In a second major day of action after tens of thousands marched through Dublin on October 11, opponents of the new utility warned even more protests will be organised before the weekend.

Towns in 17 counties and another 20 locations in Dublin have been selected to show the deepening mass opposition to the charges.

The nationwide campaign organised by Right2Water and supported by trade unionists, left wing parties and groups, including Independent TDs, Sinn Fein, the United Left Alliance and the Socialist Party, claim numbers will dwarf the last march in the capital.

Richard Boyd Barrett, People Before Profit Alliance TD, said the coordinated demonstrations are an unprecedented revolt against “hated and unjust” water charges.

“The people have had enough of six years of relentless and cruel austerity and they are now saying enough is enough. Water charges and the scandal that is Irish water is simply a step too far,” he said.

“Water is a human right for every citizen, not something to be bought and sold. And for many, these charges are simply unpayable.”

As the politicians detailed the 70 locations of Saturday’s demonstrations and called for action, several dozen protesters interrupted a meeting between Irish Water and councillors in Cork. It was one of several meetings planned between the utility company and elected representatives to discuss issues including billing.

Protests against the water charges will take place in Carlow, Ennis and Shannon, Co Clare, Bandon, Youghal and Cork city, Ballyshannon and Letterkenny, Co Donegal, Galway, Listowel and Tralee, Co Kerry, Athy, Newbridge, Naas, Newbridge, Leixlip and Celbridge in Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Drogheda and Dundalk in Louth, Navan, Kells, Ashbourne and Duleek in Meath, Claremorris, Co Mayo, Boyle and Roscommon town, Sligo, Cashel and Clonmel, Co Tipperary, Waterford, New Ross and Wexford Town, Bray, Greystones, Arklow and Wicklow Town, and more than 20 locations in Dublin.

Right2Water also announced plans to follow up Saturday’s demonstrations with a protest at Leinster House on Wednesday December 10.

Clare Daly, United Left Alliance TD, said this weekend was a forerunner to another single, large scale gathering and the only response is abolition of charges.

“November 1 will dwarf October 11 and be an unstoppable display of people power, the forerunner of mass civil disobedience that will make this tax uncollectible,” she said.

Paul Murphy, Socialist Party TD, said the Government’s agenda is being dealt a massive blow by the resistance to meter installation and threatened non-compliance with charges.

“Momentum continues to gather and people who at the outset were unsure if we could beat this unjust tax have been enormously boosted by the high levels of activity, meetings and protests across the state,” he said.

Mr Murphy also said the campaign was completely opposed to threats of violence after Irish Water meter fitters were confronted by a man carrying a shotgun in Co Louth earlier this week.

The Right2Water campaign later added further protests to its list.

They include two protests in Cavan town, Fermoy and Mallow in Co Cork, Lifford in Donegal, Maynooth, Co Kildare, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, Longford, Navan, Ballina and Castlebar in Mayo, Monaghan town, Birr and Tullamore in Offaly, Carrick-on-Suir, Nenagh, Roscrea and Tipperary town, Portlaw in Waterford, Gorey and Enniscorthy in Wexford and Blessington in Wicklow.

In a statement, Right2Water said: “The extent and diversity of the events being planned around the country not only by Right2Water, but also by other groups, reflects the level of public anger surrounding water charges.

“From Ballyshannon in Donegal to Tralee in Kerry, we are witnessing an unprecedented popular mobilisation which started in Dublin on October 11, and will only end when domestic water user charges are abolished.”

The campaign also has the backing of five trade unions – Unite, Mandate, the Civil and Public Services Union, Communication Workers’ Union and Operative Plasterers & Allied Trades Society of Ireland.

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