Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the Irish capital on Saturday to demand the abolition of a controversial water tax—an austerity measure that protesters say violates the human right to this vital good.
The campaign Right2Water announced in a press statement on Saturday that over 80,000 people from across Ireland took part in the demonstration. The group, whose steering committee organized the rally, had insisted ahead of the event that a big turnout is vital to "send a clear message that we refuse to be bullied and intimidated into acquiescence."
The Dublin rally was the latest mass mobilization in a protracted fight to head off a top-down push to directly charge residents for water use, to satisfy European Union and International Monetary Fund demands.
Beyond declaring that they "won't pay," protesters also seek to take proactive steps to prevent the government from privatizing Ireland's water bureau, Irish Water
Addressing the crowd, Communications Workers Union representative Steve Fitzpatrick called for water to be protected as a public good in the constitution. The union is proposing an amendment which would read, "The Government shall be collectively responsible for the protection, management and maintenance of the public water system."
Many emphasized that the fight to defend water rights—and public goods—spans the globe.
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In fact, Reuters reports that many in the crowd carried Greek flags to show solidarity with that austerity-stricken nation.
Memet Uludag of People Before profit and the Irish Anti-Racism Network, called attention to the fact that the protest coincided with the UN's World Anti-Racism day.
"We say today water is a human right," Uludag declared to demonstrators, according to The Irish Times. "Black and white, we will unite and we will fight. From Bolivia to Detroit to Greece, people have been fighting against cuts, against austerity."
Updates and reports are being posted to Twitter: