Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Dublin last Saturday. Anti-water charge campaigners held a major demonstration ahead of the country’s general election on Friday of this week.
The protest was organised by Right2Water/Right2Change who say some 80,000 attended.
Protesters from across Ireland braved rain to take part under the banner, “Another Ireland is Possible”.
The campaign said 106 general election candidates are signed up to its principles. These go beyond opposition to water charges to general opposition to austerity.
Protesters carried banners reading, “Can’t Pay Won’t Pay” and, “Water is a Human Right”. They chanted, “Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out”.
One said, “Bolivia-Ireland Solidarity. We did it in 2000, you can do it now—Defeat Water Charges”.
Unite union official and Right2Water/Right2Change coordinator Brendan Ogle said Saturday’s event represented an “unprecedented show of determination and unity”.
He said, “The huge turnout on the final Saturday before the general election sends a clear message to the outgoing government that public anger at water charges remains unabated and will be reflected in the ballot boxes.”
John Lyons, a People Before Profit councillor, said the charges were “another step on the road to water privatisation”.
“We have people feeling their own power, it’s absolutely amazing to see,” he added.
The outgoing government of Fine Gael has campaigned on a similar basis to the Tories’ general election strategy.
The party emphasises a supposed recovery since the financial crash and austerity.
In truth people have faced years of cuts and worsening poverty.
The other bosses’ party, Fianna Fail, is hoping to recover from the last election. Then it lost 51 of its 71 seats due to overseeing the EU/IMF bank bailout.
Sinn Fein has tacked left to try and make gains at the expense of the Labour Party, which has been in coalition.
Labour Party leader Joan Burton, who is the outgoing Tanaiste (deputy prime minister), may lose her seat.
Socialist Worker’s sister organisation in Ireland is part of People Before Profit (PBP) which is standing in a joint slate with the Anti-Austerity Alliance.
People Before Profit MP Richard Boyd Barrett said at a meeting after the march last Saturday, “If the government, and particularly the Labour Party, wants an explanation as to why they are collapsing in the polls, that explanation was to be found on the streets of Dublin.
“The protest has once again demonstrated the enormous anger against water charges, Irish Water and unjust austerity measures.
“It is a clear message to the government that water charges, and the government that brought them in, must go.”