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Saturday’s National Day of Protest


Saturday’s National Day of Protest

Saturday 23rd January 2016 be a special date for me, indeed many others, who have fought the good fight against water charges over the past years. In Dublin City and other main urban centres, ordinary people took to the streets again voted on this highly controversial subject with their feet. Leaflets were distributed in our area of Dublin 8, two weeks prior to the event. It advised that if local residents, and from surrounding areas would like to attend this march, where to meet on the day.

I arrived just shy of the expected time at 2 pm at Christ Church Hill. When I arrived I could see that there was a large Garda presence on the brow of the hill.  The sheer amount of people who had turned up for the protest was a damning indictment to all those who felt the movement was losing steam. I often covered these public peaceful marches, for the Fountain your favourite online digital newswire, and so, being no stranger to these protests, to see them grow in size was actually quite surprising. I made my way to the front of the crowd, and took out my camera and note book. I positioned myself a little way down the hill, and when I looked back up, all I could see was thousands, some carrying flags, and banners.

Suffice it to say these banners were less than complimentary of the Government parties.

It was just a little past 2 pm when the crowd began to move down hill. There was some Garda out directing traffic, as we went down the hill, towards O’Donovon Rossa Bridge.

The weather wasn’t in our favour, and the rain did make an appearance hence the saying, all this rain and they want us to pay for our water. The rain did not dampen the spirits of the marchers who, chanted, and sang their way down on to the quays.  Tourists looked on astonished to see the 5.000 plus group singing in the rain. When the crowd reached Grattan Bridge, another group from Dublin 7 joined us, a big cheer could be heard as we all become one big group.

As we walked down the quays towards O’Connell Street Bridge, I spoke with some of the protesters. One lady was in a wheelchair been pushed by her son, she had a small megaphone, and was shouting as loud as throat would allow. The megaphone also had a siren button on it, and every so often she would press it, and it went off like an old Police car, her son would be pushing her almost ruining with her, as in an emergency, to the amusement of some of the protesters.

We made it to the GPO, O’Connell Street, at 2.55pm to be greeted by another large group of people and a stage that was erected for the speakers including Father Peter McVerry who is no stranger to our web age. While we waited we were informed that there was another group of people, mainly from the north side of Dublin, on their way after a quick march up to the conference centre.

By the time that group began to arrive via North Earl street, the rain was once again attacking us.  The speakers did inspire, and they did motivate the gathered assembly.  If I was honest though, it was the volume, the increase of numbers from past marches that left the greater impact. I think understandably people thought that as time moved on this protest would lose its legs, the people would yield, this has not happened.  There has been an increase in numbers, which begs the question, is Irish Water, a Political Storm, or is it Political Suicide?


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