Ireland: Huge protests against water charges, Sinn Fein top polls for first time

November 3, 2014
Protesters outside Dublin's GPO on November 1. About 200,000 people protested across Ireland against water charges.

More than 200,000 people demonstrated on streets up and down the country in protest against water charges. Even in the smaller towns across Ireland, people marched in their thousands, while cities crowd numbers were in the tens of thousands.

About 30,000 braved incessant rain in Cork city. The march took almost an hour-and-a-half to make its way through Cork city centre. Among the politicians protesting was Sinn Fein’s Jonathan O’Brien, who said: “The government needs to recognise the numbers on the streets. People are not going to pay, it is a tax too far.”

The organisers of the more than 100 protests expressed delight at the huge turnout amid terrible weather.

The Right2Water campaign said: “Today showed the strength of public opposition to water charges in communities up and down the country.

“The time has come for the government to accept the will of the people, abolish domestic water charges and return to the drawing board. Until they do, the Right2Water campaign will keep up the pressure.”

The group said details of a major rally outside the Dublin parliament on December 10 — International Human Rights Day — will be announced in the coming days.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was at the rally in Dundalk, and he said: “Today’s Right2Water day of action was a huge success, with positive, family-friendly demonstrations right across the state.

“It is clear that the Fine Gael/Labour government has totally underestimated the level of public anger at the imposition of domestic water charges and the determination that now exists to defeat them.

“The establishment of Irish Water and the imposition of domestic water charges has been a fiasco from the start.

“Citizens have had enough of relentless austerity, new taxes and charges. They have said loudly and clearly that they will not accept the Water Tax.

“This government must listen to the people and end its imposition of water charges.”

The huge demonstrations came as Sinn Fein, which has campaigned against austerity measures, topped an opinion poll in the Irish republic for the first time in the history of polling in the southern state. The Millward Brown survey for the November 2 Sunday Independent questioned 1000 people over the past 10 days. Sinn Fein gained four points to move up to 26%.

It shows independents also making gains. They increased their support by two points to 23%.

Support for both parties in the governing coalition is down significantly, with Fine Gael dropping three points to 22% and Labour down two points to 7%. Opposition party Fianna Fail has also seen a drop in support, down one to 20%.

The poll showed a major move up for Sinn Fein, despite an intensive and orchestrated campaign in the establishment media to damage the party.

[Reprinted from Irish Republican news.]

Like the article? Subscribe to Green Left now! You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.