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 A sea of protesters in Dublin on Saturday denouncing new water charges.  (Photo: Dara Robinson/flickr/cc)

Sea of Irish Protesters: 'Water Is a Human Right!'

Massive demonstration admonishes new water tax as further austerity

Andrea Germanos

As many as 100,000 people took to the streets of Dublin on Saturday to denounce a new water tax  and declare, "Water is a human right."

Protesters say the water charges, to begin next year, are yet more austerity measures that have pushed people towards a "tipping point."

Fifty-year-old Martin Kelly held a sign reading "Stop the great water heist" and told Reuters, "There is absolute fury against what the government has imposed on the people."

"This day will go down in history as the day that the people decided to roar," said Independent TD Clare Daly. "We are here in our tens of thousands to say water is a human right, based on need, not an ability to pay."

Other protesters chanted, "“From the rivers to the sea, Irish water will be free."

Independent councillor Declan Bree said that people have already been paying €1.2 billion for water through their taxes, and said the new plan is a step towards privatizing the country's water.

Bree is among those saying that people should refuse to pay the new charges.

“We have to have mass non-compliance when these bills start coming in January," Audrey Clancy of the Edenmore Says No campaign told the crowd.

"No contract, no consent. We can beat this. We have to stick together. The power of the people is greater than the people in power. Stand up to them,” she said.

A statement from the People Before Profit Alliance reads: "We can stop these charges if we come together and resist. In the 1990s, the government tried to impose water charges on domestic users. They were met with mass protests and were forced to retreat. People power defeated the water charges then. We can do the same today."

The Right2Water campaign has an online petition to urge the government to abandon the water tax, noting: "Access to water is recognized as a human right by the United Nations. The Irish Constitution supports the distribution of vital community resources, like water, on the needs of the common good."

Organizers have another demonstration scheduled for November 1.


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