Sunday 24 September 2017

More than 300 protest against Irish Water outside Labour conference in Kerry

Jason Kennedy

Jason Kennedy

More than 300 water protesters have descended on Killarney to demonstrate outside the Labour Party's conference.

The protesters peacefully demonstrated against water charges, as well as for the release of five of their fellow demonstrators who were jailed for contempt of court earlier this month.

Vincent Browne audience member Michael O'Leary takes part in the protest
Vincent Browne audience member Michael O'Leary takes part in the protest

Those taking part gathered on the outskirts of the town before marching to the event centre where Labour's conference is taking place this weekend.

Joining in on the protest was Michael O'Leary, who became an overnight celebrity after his speech against same-sex marriage on Vincent Browne earlier this month. In a moment of confusion, Mr O'Leary stated he didn't want to see "men and women getting married". He joined the protest with a makeshift megaphone.

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Last week, around 170 protesters traveled to Castlebar in Mayo to demonstrate outside Fine Gael's National Conference. Speaking outside the convention centre, People Before Profit campaigner Hazel Norton said there were  no plans to protest party conferences other than Fine Gael and Labour.

"Enda Kenny will try and play this protest down and brush it off, but there's no avoiding it. No matter where he goes in Ireland the people will protest," she said.

"We're not going to go away."

Pictured from left to right: Bernie Hughes of McKelvey Avenue, Finglas; Damien O'Neill of Greenwood Park in Coolock; Paul Moore of Mount Olive Grove in Kilbarrack; Derek Byrne of Streamville Road, Donaghmede. Not pictured: Michael Batty of Edenmore Avenue, Raheny
Pictured from left to right: Bernie Hughes of McKelvey Avenue, Finglas; Damien O'Neill of Greenwood Park in Coolock; Paul Moore of Mount Olive Grove in Kilbarrack; Derek Byrne of Streamville Road, Donaghmede. Not pictured: Michael Batty of Edenmore Avenue, Raheny

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Meanwhile in Dublin, more water protesters are marching from the GPO on O'Connell Street to Mountjoy Prison where the five prisoners are being held.

This is the march's second week and participants say they will march every week until the protesters are released. Organisers had planned a candle lit vigil outside the prison for those jailed.

Five people were sentenced - Derek Byrne of Streamville Road, Donaghmede; Paul Moore of Mount Olive Grove, Kilbarrack; Damien O'Neill of Greenwood Park, Coolock; Bernie Hughes of McKelvey Ave, Finglas; and Michael Batty of Edenmore Ave, Raheny.

Three of the protesters took part in a hunger strike during the week after they were moved from Mountjoy Prison to Wheatfield Prison. They have since ended their strike.

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