Tens of thousands turned out in Dublin on October 11, 2014 to oppose the implementation of water charges by the political coalition of Fine Gael and Labour, but estimates are put at between 75,000 and 100,000.
The number far exceeded all expectations. Hundreds of thousands came from all over the 26 Counties and many areas in Dublin. Among the areas from Dublin represented were Crumlin, Ayrfield, Clarehall, Brookvale, Donaghmede, Ballyogan, Finglas, Ballymun, Edenmore, Coolock, Tallaght and Clondalkin while others from outside Dublin came included Carlow, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Offaly, Wicklow, Athlone, Letterkenny, Leitrim and Mayo. There were banners from trade unions Mandate, Unite, the CPSU, the Communication Workers Union and the plasterers’ union, OPATSI.
They showed and shouted their anger at this latest charge piled upon all the other austerity charges and cuts by chanting: “You say cut back – we say fight back”! And “Kenny in your ivory tower, this is called people power!” Banners showed the determination of the protesters and the contempt in which the political parties are held, in particular Labour Party Táinaiste Joan Burton and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Joan Burton came in for some severe criticism after her comments in Leinster House during the previous week implying that if the protesters could pay for phones and tablets, then they could pay for water; and caricatures of both were plentiful!
The demonstration assembled at Parnell Square and proceeded down O’Connell Street, on to Kildare Street, down to Dame Street and back to the GPO in O’Connell Street – that took one-and-a-half hours. While the march was moving up one side of O’Connell Street, the other side was filled with protesters still moving off from Parnell Square, while watched all the time by the Gardaí on the ground and in the sky.
The protesters comprised many groups with different ideas on how to deal with the issue of the installation of water meters but they were totally united on the fact that water should be free: “From the rivers to the sea, Irish water will be free”.
At the GPO Resistance Choir sang Now Is The Time For Rage. Among the speakers were Audrey Clancy of the Edenmore Says No campaign who advised people not to either fill the ‘water forms’ or pay the bills; Clare Daly, Independent TD who said: ‘You are not getting any more blood from these stones’; Jimmy Kelly of UNITE and community activist John Bisset. The talented Irish poet Stephen Murphy recited “Was it for this?” and was very well received by the thousands assembled outside the GPO.
The protests in Dublin are continuing with almost as many gardai “attending” and were in “attendance” in Dublin city centre on Saturday. Despite the heavy handed policing of the gardai at protests it is serving only to increase the resolve of the people and the campaign is gaining momentum.
On the day Republican Sinn Féin activists distributed thousands of leaflets and pamphlets highlighting Éire Nua, the blueprint for decentralised power structures in a united and Independent Ireland.
The people are speaking, the politicians should listen.