Thousands of people marched through Dublin to support two jailed anti-water charge protesters who have gone on hunger strike. Around 10,000 rallied in the Irish capital to back the duo, who started to refuse food on Friday.
Five people are currently being held in prison after objecting to
the Irish government’s decision to tax water. They had defied a
court order to come within a 20-metre exclusion zone set up
around a water installation. Tap water had been free in Ireland,
though the government introduced measures to introduce water
meters as an extra way to raise capital.
Thousands of people, led by the families of the jailed protesters
met outside Mountjoy prison in Dublin, where they are being held,
after marching through the center of the city on Saturday.
— Carol (@rochagal) February
“Derek Byrne and Pauly Moore have stopped eating since
yesterday,” said Audrey Clancy, who addressed up to 10,000
protesters. “And Derek Byrne has said if he’s not released by
Monday he will stop drinking, he will take no fluid intake. These
people are putting their lives on the line,” she added, as
cited by the Irish Times.
The Irish Prison Service didn’t confirm whether the inmates had
gone on hunger strike. Byrne and two other protesters have been
sent to jail for 28 days, while Paul Moore and the final
demonstrator were given 56-day terms each.
Earlier this week, the court had been shown footage recorded by
security firms acting on behalf of water meter installers, GMC
Sierra, which showed protesters in and around work stations.
In a statement on February 19, Right2Water, which is leading the
campaign against the water tax said it was shocked by the jailing
of the protesters.
They described the sentencing as “an unnecessary and
provocative decision brought about by an unfair water charge that
has already been rejected and cannot work.”
“It is important to remember that these jailings are not as a
result of any crime committed, but for a technical ‘contempt’
issue,” the campaign added, according to the Journal.
Meanwhile Paul Murphy from the Socialist Party told demonstrators
he was confident they would manage to overturn the government’s
decision to introduce the tax.
— Paul Murphy (@paulmurphyAAA) February
“The fact that so many people came out, maybe 10,000 people,
at two days’ notice, that’s a sign that people are reacting,
people are mobilizing. People know what’s happening is absolutely
wrong,” as cited in the Irish Times.
“We need to mobilize all of our selves to convince those in
the middle not to pay. Mass non-payment will sink Irish
water,” he added.
Murphy added that he believes the government’s water charges are
a veiled austerity tax that many Irish citizens can’t afford to
— #right2water (@philtheflatman) February
Speaking to RT on February 12, he said, “We have an
establishment that is scared, scared that the lessons of Greece
will be learnt, that there is an alternative to austerity and the
establishment parties can be ousted,” he said.
“They focus that fear, correctly in my opinion, on the
anti-water charges movement, which is the biggest movement of
protest this state has seen in decades.”
He was arrested two weeks ago following a police raid on his and
other activists’ homes. This led to a ‘solidarity’ protest-taking
place outside the Irish Embassy in London.
In October, around 50,000 protesters took to the streets of
Dublin to campaign against the new tax, one of the largest
demonstrations in the country in years. They called for the
government to re-think the tax and for people not to pay it if it
Ireland’s citizens had paid for their water services through
general taxation. However, in 2014, the country’s center-right
coalition decided to charge households several hundred euros a
year for the service, which was introduced at the start of 2015.