Up to 15,000 water charges protesters marched in Dublin on Saturday, in what has been labelled by some as the “final push” against the levies.Supporters of the Right2Water campaign from Sligo and other parts of the region participated in the national protest demonstration on the streets of the capital.
Among those participating were local councillors Declan Bree, Chris MacManus and Gino O’Boyle.
The protest came amid a continued deadlock between the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Mr Simon Coveney and the Oireachtas Committee on Water Charges over the contents of the committee’s final report.
The report recommends the scrapping of water charges, the end of the metering programme and refunds for all who have paid.
Members of various political groups including Sinn Fein, People before Profit, Solidarity, the Social Democrats, the Communist Party, the Workers Party and Independents4Change supported the protest march. Trade Unions at the event included Unite, Mandate, the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union and the Communications Workers Union.
Mr Mike Fitzgerald of the National Bus and Railworkers’ Union addressed the rally on behalf of the striking Bus Eireann workers, while Ms Vera Twomey, who is campaigning to have medicinal cannabis legalised also spoke at the event.
Mr Fitzgerald said his union’s dispute with Bus Éireann over the proposed imposition of cost-cutting measures was “so much more than an industrial relations dispute.
“We are fighting for every worker in this country, every worker in every semi-State, because if they get it in here lads, they’re going to ram it through every semi- State and then they are going to go into every shop floor in every factory.
“There’s a message coming from Bus Éireann workers: ‘Shag off. You’re not going to do it to us.’”
In a speech to the crowd, People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith congratulated the protesters for their determination.
She ended her speech by quoting Pádraig Pearse: “And I say to my people’s masters: ‘Beware, Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people. Who shall take what ye would not give.’” The protesters march through Dublin's O'Connell Street
Solidarity TD Paul Murphy told the crowd that those in Government were mobilising to impose the charges in some form.
“They are mobilising because they don’t want to be beaten because water charges are strategically important for them.
“But they are also mobilising because they don’t want the lesson to go out that they can be beaten, that if we rise up together that we can win.”
Other political speakers included Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy and Independent TD Joan Collins