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Thousands of protesters join anti-water charge demonstrations

Published 23/01/2016

Protesters from the Right2Water movement opposed to water taxes and austerity gather in Dublin
Protesters from the Right2Water movement opposed to water taxes and austerity gather in Dublin

Thousands of anti-water charge campaigners have taken part in a series of nationwide protests.

Around 30 demonstrations were organised in towns and cities up and down the country as part of the sixth day of action by the Right2Water movement.

The movement is led by community and political representatives and trade unions.

Ahead of the main events, a number of campaigners staged a picket at the Fine Gael ard fheis in Citywest in Dublin.

Campaign spokesman and general secretary of the Mandate union John Douglas said the controversial water charges should be at the top of the agenda for the forthcoming General Election.

"We promised over a year and a half ago that we would make water charges the number one issue for this election and today's set of demonstrations is a step towards that objective," he said.

"Water charges are an unfair imposition on the public and they serve no purpose other than a transfer of wealth from the poorest to the wealthiest in our society and they're also about lining up the future privatisation of our water services."

The largest protest was staged in Dublin outside the GPO on O'Connell Street.

Right2Water, backed by trade unions including Mandate, Unite, the Communication Workers' Union, power union the TEEU, and the Civil and Public Services Union, plans to follow the latest rallies with another major demonstration on the Saturday before the election day.

It also plans a high profile conference with a panel of international speakers at the height of the election campaign.

Right2Water's latest campaign centres on claims that households use 10% of water produced in the country compared with big business and agriculture but they pay nearly 80% of costs.

It has also attacked Irish Water figures which found 61% of customers have paid a bill.

Right2Water claims Irish Water should have taken in 225 million euro in charges to date but has only collected 110 million euro and it has spent 80 million euro on conservation grants.

At the last major rally last August, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Dublin.

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