100,000 Protesters March
Against Water Charges
By Cliodhna Joyce-Daly, Contributor
February / March 2015
Up to 100,000 protesters opposed to the introduction of water charges brought Dublin to a standstill in December when they rallied outside the Irish parliament building. The December 10th protest was the largest yet in what has become an increasingly strife-filled argument between the Irish government and the taxpayers. The charges, which are mandated by the 2010 E.U. bailout agreement, will mean that the Irish will pay some of the highest rates for water in the E.U.
“I don’t believe I should have to pay for water next year ,” one protester told the BBC. “I already pay for water as it is through general taxation.”
The immense size of the rally escalated already high tensions in Dublin, with some protesters throwing stones and bottles at police lines, resulting in the hospitalization of one Garda officer and the arrest of two protesters. The O’Connell Bridge was blocked for much of the day, and even Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister, Joan Burton, was not exempt from the standstill as she was forced to remain in her car for three hours, according to The Irish Independent.
Frustration with the charges is far-ranging, and even the Oscar-winning Irish musician Glen Hansard came out to perform for the protesters.
“I think there is a general sense of anger, a seething dissatisfaction and I’m just like anyone else,” he told The Irish Times.
British actor and comedian Russell Brand also lent his voice to the protest in a video posted to YouTube.
“We should support the people who are protesting in Ireland for the most basic of rights, water,” he said.
Although the water charges are set in place for this year, leftwing TD Paul Murphy says he hopes to pass a bill to annul the water charges come April.