Cork water charge protester calls off hunger strike

The young man who called off his anti water charges hunger strike last night has pledged to devote his energy to fighting the tax in an organised manner.

Cork water charge protester calls off hunger strike

Gary Coleman, 28, from Southern Road in Cork, called off his one-man protest outside Cork’s City Hall at 4.30pm but remained outside the building until 10pm to thank supporters.

He said he felt drained after the 48-hour hunger strike but happy his stance raised awareness about the issue.

He is “really looking forward” to a beer and a chicken korma.

“My body really started giving in today (Wednesday),” he said. “My legs started going, my stomach started going, aches pains, last night I was soaked wet. It’s really taken a toll on me.”

He also said concerned friends and family had asked him to stop.

But he plans to continue to campaign against water charges by getting involved with The People’s Convention.

He thanked people who supported him during his protest and urged them to continue. Mr Coleman started his hunger strike on Monday night. He endured appalling weather conditions on Tuesday when he slept overnight in a tent outside City Hall.

Several people joined him on the steps of City Hall throughout Tuesday and again yesterday.

He said Tuesday was a difficult day but he was heartened by the public support which included Facebook messages from around the world.

One man in North Carolina messaged him on Facebook to say he intended staging a hunger strike too in solidarity with him.

The People’s Convention movement — Mr Coleman is a nephew of one of the key figures involved in the movement — had been trying since Monday evening to persuade Mr Coleman to end his hunger strike, and to direct his energy in a more positive manner.

Spokesman Diarmaid Ó Cadhla welcomed his decision to end his protest.

“We had concerns about the possible self harm and that it could be a bad example to others,” he said.

“We felt he would better serve the cause by aligning himself with other communities or with a group like ours.

“In fairness the guy has shown massive spirit.

“It’s not what we would have chosen to do but it shows his personal commitment, and the level of anger that exists.

“People are fuming about how they have been treated but people need to control their anger and gut reactions, making rash decisions, are not going to help.”

Mr Coleman said he will now help with preparations for the group’s ‘Boycott Irish Water’ rally in the city on October 25.

The group, which occupied City Hall two weeks ago after their posters advertising a public meeting were removed from street lamps, made a submission to city council on the issue.

Mr Ó Cadhla accused city management of arbitrarily introducing new rules.

But City Hall has insisted its removal of the posters two weeks ago, was required under the Environment Act because they were erected without the permission of city council, and the location of some posed a hazard to motorists.

A separate anti Irish Water rally being organised by the Anti Austerity Alliance is due to take place in the city this Saturday.

Dry spell more water outages

Thousands of homes across the northside of Cork City were left without water yesterday — the second major water outage to hit that part of the city in four months.

Repair crews from Cork City Council, working on behalf of Irish Water, spent most of the day repairing the fault and had supply restored to all but 10 homes. The disruption was caused by a breach on a 450mm diameter water mains at Brewery Corner. The burst triggered a safety measure response which closed a control valve at the Churchfield Reservoir — resulting in the supply disruption.

The fault affected vast swathes of Churchfield, Mayfield, Tivoli, Silversprings, and Blarney Rd.

Repair crews re-opened the valve and isolated the area where the burst occurred.

Water was restored to all but 10 houses by mid-afternoon. Full restoration was completed later in the evening.

The northside experienced a major water outage last June which affected 10,000 homes, and forced the closure of a primary school.

The fault at that time had been blamed on a faulty automated sluice valve at the outlet to Cork City ‘high’ reservoir.

Mayfield-based Worker’s Party city councillor Ted Tynan said the two major faults highlighted the need for massive investment in the water network.

Meanwhile, a government TD took to Twitter yesterday to make a direct plea to the CEO of Irish Water for investment in the water network in his area.

Castletownbere-based Fine Gael TD Noel Harrington made his comments as Irish Water responded to a major water supply fault in the wider Beara peninsula town area.

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