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Thousands march in Ireland against water meters and for the release of water warriors

Thousands marched today to Mountjoy prison to demand the release of right to water activists. Twitter photo by Pedestrian View.

Thousands marched today to Mountjoy prison to demand the release of right to water activists. Twitter photo by Pedestrian View.

The Blue Planet Project stands in solidarity with the water justice movement in Ireland.

There was another large right to water protest in Ireland today. The protest was against the imposition of water charges resulting from a Memorandum of Understanding between the Irish government and the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. In exchange for a bailout, Ireland was required to establish Irish Water, a water utility with a mandate to operate as a private company, and to implement full cost recovery for water services through water metering rather than through tax revenues.

Today’s protest was also about the arrest of 29 right to water activists.

Those arrests are related to an incident last November in which Tánaiste [deputy prime minister] Joan Burton, her special adviser and driver were trapped in her car for more than two hours after being surrounded by anti-water meter activists in the community of Jobstown. Five of those activists have now been sentenced — two for 56 days, three for 28 days in prison — for defying a court order that prohibited them from coming within 20-metres of the installation of a water meter.

The Irish Times reports, “Protests have taken place in Dublin and Castlebar against the jailing of five anti-water charge protesters. A protest of about seven thousand people, led by the families of jailed anti-water charge protesters, marched through the centre of Dublin to a rally at Mountjoy Jail.” The Irish Mirror adds, “Thousands of furious protesters took to the streets of Dublin today protesting the recent arrests of anti-water charges activists, while hundreds demonstrated outside the Fine Gael [which is the country’s governing party] national conference in Mayo over the hated charges. The Dublin protest began at the Central Bank of Ireland on Dame Street and finished at Mountjoy Prison on the northside of the city.”

Dublin South West TD (member of the lower house of the Irish parliament) Paul Murphy says, “I understand people don’t want to get involved in campaigns about political policing and imprisonment when, for them, the issue might be solely water chargers. But it is time people took a stand against what’s going on in this country—it’s all connected.” He has also stated, “I would be happy to breach [the 20-metre] injunction and I would encourage others to breach such an injunction. How many people [is the government] willing to jail to get these water meters in?”

Major protests have taken place against the water charges on October 11, November 1, December 10 and January 31. The water charges came into force on January 31, and the first bills will be issued in April. The next Right2Water national day of protest will take place on March 21 in Dublin city centre. Water charges are likely to be the central issue in the next general election which must take place before April 3, 2016.

For more information, please be sure to Like the Right2Water Ireland Facebook page here and the Release the Water Warriors Now page here.

Further reading
Blue Planet Project in solidarity with Irish right to water protests (October 2014 blog)
Windsor chapter says from Detroit to Dublin water is a human right (November 2014 blog)
100,000 march against water charges in Ireland (December 2014 blog)