Tuesday 24 October 2017

Water protesters gather at gates of Aras as bill signed

Dermot McGuckin of Kingswood/Tallaght Water Protest Group hands a petition into Aras an Uachtarain at The Phoenix Park in Dublin yesterday. Photo: C. O'Riordan
Dermot McGuckin of Kingswood/Tallaght Water Protest Group hands a petition into Aras an Uachtarain at The Phoenix Park in Dublin yesterday. Photo: C. O'Riordan

Robin Schiller

Around 50 people gathered outside Aras an Uachtarain to protest at President Michael D Higgins's decision to sign the controversial Water Services Bill into law.

The anti-water charge protesters held a candle-lit vigil at the gates of the Aras in Dublin's Phoenix Park and handed in a petition calling on Mr Higgins to pass the bill to the Supreme Court.

A spokesman for the President last night refused to comment on the vigil but said Mr Higgins had given "careful consideration to all constitutional aspects of the bill and the options available" before signing it into law.

The formal signing of the bill, following its passage through the Dail and Seanad shortly before Christmas, means that people will start paying for water from Thursday, January 1, with the first bills arriving through letterboxes in April.

Yesterday's protest was organised by local group Kingswood Says No To Water Charges and around a dozen gardai were on duty outside the Aras while it took place.

Spokesman for the protesters Dermot McGuckian said people would "continue to stand firm with conviction in opposing the charges".

"We will continue to protest by week, by month and we'll get stronger and build and continue to grow," he added.

Meanwhile, one man had been protesting outside the gates of the Aras for the past week.

Pascal McDaibhid from Galway has been fasting for the past seven days, even spending Christmas day camped there.

"I've been here since last Sunday, so I've spent Christmas here as well" he said.

"It's been tough, especially with the weather, but something has to be done about this water charge bill," he added.

The protests outside the Aras follow on from months of demonstrations around the country. A number of TDs who opposed the Water Services Bill 2014 had called on Mr Higgins to refer the bill to the Council of State.

Irish Independent

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