Dublin comes to a standstill in mass rally
Organisers claim success as crowds march against water charges again
Thousands of demonstrators from across the country converged in Dublin yesterday for a national protest against water charges.
People of all ages and from all walks of life formed a human chain on both banks of the River Liffey as they marched from Connolly and Heuston Stations before converging outside the GPO where speakers - including local community activists, trade unionists and politicians - urged protesters to continue their boycott of Irish Water charges while demanding the abolishment of the utility.
The mood was defiant but peaceful as angry householders joined veteran activists as they banged drums, chanted and held aloft banners, placards, flags and balloons carrying the message: "We won't pay."
As the first wave of protesters made their way from Heuston Station, a number of the so-called Jobstown 23 posed in front of a banner outside the Criminal Courts of Justice, demanding that any charges against the protesters who were arrested following an anti-water demonstration last November in which Tanaiste Joan Burton was trapped in her car for several hours, be dropped.
Anti Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, who is also facing charges, said that while no one has received any formal notice from gardai, they are anticipating they will be arrested.
But in the meantime, the momentum against Irish Water and water charges continues to build, he claimed.
"The mood is one of confidence. I think they feel they have the Government on the run, that the Government is reeling from the massive boycott of 57pc who haven't paid and people have the sense that we can win this, that it's now a matter of hammering in the final nails in the coffin of Irish Water."
The protest, which some claimed was the largest to date, drew bemused looks from shopkeepers and tourists, who captured the massive procession on mobile phone cameras while LUAS services were temporarily suspended in the area and traffic was brought to a standstill. While gardai said the protest went off peacefully, torrential rain soon brought a quick dispersal of the significant crowd that assembled outside on O'Connell Street for the final rally.
In the crowd was protester Tony Murray, (67), from Ennis, Co Clare. The retired opera singer has attended every anti-water charge demonstration since the first one was held in October 2014 after returning to Ireland from South Africa where he lived for many years.
"I've marched against apartheid in South Africa and I've marched against other injustices and this is one injustice - the privatisation of water," he said.
"I think the Government would like to think we've all given up and gone away, but no, we won't," he said.