Irish Water Tax Rebellion Marches on as Thirty Thousand Take to Streets
Nationwide demonstrations show that recent government concessions will not deter protests against austerity agenda
The center of Dublin has reportedly shut down as demonstrators, joining a chorus of nation-wide protests on Saturday, came out in droves to fight government efforts to tax citizens' right to water.
An estimated 30,000 marched in Dublin while other protests were held in cities and towns across the country including Limerick, Waterford and Donegal. According to The Irish Times, the rallies have caused major traffic disruption and road closures in Dublin, with groups marching from separate train stations and converging outside the General Post Office where speakers addressed the massive crowd.
The demonstrations, organized by local grassroots groups, are protesting threats to privatize Ireland's water bureau, Irish Water, and its plan to charge residents some €160 per year in an effort to satisfy EU-IMF demands. The latest round of protests come as roughly 660,000 households failed to meet a Monday deadline to register for water billing, Irish Water confirmed to media.
Richard Boyd Barrett, a representative with the political party People Before Profit Alliance, told reporters that government concessions made in response to the ongoing demonstrations will not appease protesters. In November, Irish Water announced certain households will have lower flat rates for water consumption.
"The friends of the Government, in various quarters, have been hoping and wishing that the massive popular rebellion against water charges and the wider austerity agenda would end—they are sorely mistaken," he said.
Right2Water, the organizing committee behind some of the large anti-water tax demonstrations, made a similar pledge of resistance in a press statement: "The campaign against these unjust water charges continues. Last year, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets all over the country, and wrung significant concessions from the Government. But as we said at the time—people marched for abolition, not concessions."
Images of the nation-wide demonstrations were shared online.
Thousands at anti water protests in Dublin pic.twitter.com/jp1W9KahYU— Rory Hearne (@RoryHearne) January 31, 2015