Tens of thousands protest water charges in Dublin

Tens of thousands protest water charges in Dublin

Tens of thousands of anti-water charge protesters have taken to the streets of Dublin in the fifth major demonstration against the new utility.

Two main groups converged on O’Connell Street after gathering at Heuston and Connolly Stations before marching along the quays.

Among them were 23 protesters facing charges over incidents in Jobstown in Tallaght last November when Tánaiste Joan Burton was forced to remain in her car for more than two hours after being prevented from leaving a graduation ceremony.

They began their involvement with a protest on the steps of the Criminal Courts of Justice.

Bus loads of people also descended on the capital from around the country with smaller feeder marches coming in to the city from the suburbs.

The Right2Water group, which organised the march, estimated about 80,000 protesters turned out.

Paul Murphy, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD, and one of those expecting to be charged over the Jobstown protest, claimed if this government does not “bow to the inevitable” and abolish water charges the next government will be under immense pressure to do so.

“This is an opportunity for people to show firstly that the anti-water charges movement has not gone away, despite repeated reports of its demise, and to go after the government now on water,” he said.

Tens of thousands protest water charges in Dublin

“They are reeling under the impact of 57% non-payment, failing the Eurostat test and it’s an opportunity to put an extra nail in the coffin of Irish Water and water charges.”

A rally was held in front of the GPO on O’Connell Street with leading trade union figures among those to address the crowds.

Among the other political figures to join the demonstration were People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett and Independent TD Clare Daly, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and Catherine Murphy of the newly formed Social Democrats.

Buses from about 26 locations around the country brought protesters to the streets of Dublin for the latest march.

Tens of thousands protest water charges in Dublin

After the demonstration the Right2Water group said the campaign against the charges would continue.

“Today saw between 80,000 and 100,000 people from all over the country gather in Dublin to restate our demand for the abolition of water charges,” a spokesman said.

“The Right2Water campaign will continue until that objective is achieved.”

Trade unions affiliated to the campaign - Unite, the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union, Mandate, the Communications Workers Union, the Civil Public and Services Union and Opatsi, the plasterers' union - said they are now planning town hall meetings to gather more support.

In a statement they said the protest had galvanised opposition to austerity and they plan to use the gatherings to promote a wider campaign on housing, jobs and democratic reform.

“Politics is about choices, and the wrong choices have been made,” the unions said.

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