Newswire » Your Say! » Spy Saturday – The Water Protest and the State

Spy Saturday – The Water Protest and the State

Protest 1

Spy Saturday – The Water Protest and the State

On Friday 28th of August, the people of Ireland woke up to a national paper headlines revealing “Garda Team Spying on Water Activities”. It’s been alleged that ordinary people and activists are been closely followed and their daily activities monitored. When I say ordinary people, I mean people who are not usually militant or even activists but are so tired of been treated so unfairly by successive administrations.  This contemptuous attitude so articulately phrased in the creation and implementation of Irish Water.  This new Garda operation, code named “Mizen”, has been in operation for the past six months. The Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan husband, Jim Mc Gowan is heading the unit.

Is this the straw that has broken the camel’s back? I am beginning to think so, what follows is my account of the protest on Saturday 29th of August. I met with our protest group (Dublin 8 & 12 Says No group) outside Christ Church at 1.30 pm. When I got there, 100 or so people had already gathered, our number would swell to by at least 200. We stopped on Grattan Bridge to await the thousands of people who where joining us from Houston Train Station. Our group proudly stood united with our banners, flags, balloons. While we waited on the bridge the mood was upbeat, considering it rained only a few minutes before and by the look of the dark clouds we all knew there was more to come. Truly, with all the rain, it was a constant reminder that there was water, water everywhere.

Dublin City was the place to be that day. We Dubliners had it easy, while country folk flooded in from outside the capital on special buses, coaches, and in some cases trains to be with us. How privileged we felt by everyone’s effort to be there, some left their houses as early as 6 am to be with us, to stand united.

While we waited uniformed Garda stood dotted around the Quays, as they already escorted us down the hill on to the bridge. They kept well away from us, but close enough to be seen and direct traffic. We could hear music coming down the quays, as it got closer the noise formed melody, someone was playing the bagpipes. At last, we could see the march been led by some of the many centenary societies that have been founded coming up to 2016.  The Bagpipes, which was in front of the march was supported by men and women carrying the Irish Tricolour. Behind them where thousands upon thousands of people some with flags, banners, full size cuttings from Mrs. Browne, Aka Brendan Carroll, with slogans saying “Feck Off we are not paying”.

When we all met up there was a huge cheer as we all greeted each other as if we were all just mates. We all then got into place some behind the leading banner, while the bulk behind the 1916 Societies.

I went ahead to get some photographs, I was not alone; I was just one of the many photographers snapping away. As we progressed down the quays, shop keepers actually left their shops and stood by on the paths clapping and cheering. People, some tourists stood by, some took photo’s using cameras or their mobile phones. As we neared the famous Ha’ Penny Bridge, there was a huge banner tied up on the railings stating that water is our human right, and we should not pay again. Behind the banner and the bag piper, the crowd got in a humorous mood as the chants sometimes vulgar, sometimes charming but always witty began to start.  These people are not some criminal element but good natured folk.

The songs would be lead by anyone using a megaphone, the rest would join in, till it faded, then another song chant would start up them they would do it all again. Could you imagine it? The rain intermittingly pouring on us and yet the mood seemed indomitable.

Passing the Ha’ Penney bridge, we could see more flags, banners, balloons, coming up in their thousands from Aston Quay, again, there was a greeting as though they were old friends.

When we made it to O’Connell Street, instead of the gathering outside our G.P.O, it was moved to another location further up the street. There was a main stage and a separate booth like stage so they could mount cameras. On the main stage there was a huge live screen that could be seen from anywhere on O’Connell Street, maybe even D’Oiller Street too. Such a screen was sorely necessary as numbers were easily heading towards 100 000. Despite the heavy rainfall everyone stood their ground and claimed their spot facing the screen.

I had a great spot, standing at the side of the stage, I could see who was getting up and getting on. When I arrived Don Baker was on the stage doing a trio set. I spotted Mary Lou McDonald, (SF) make her way to the stage, one of many politicians to speak, the rhetoric began to flow at pace from all the political speakers.  Though admittedly, it’s hard to know which ones would change things if they were in power.

The heavens opened up again. I didn’t panic, I am veteran to these events by now and experience makes you wise, I took out a pre-stored Poncho, as bright as it was Yellow, I felt like Big Bird from Sesame Street, but a happy Big Bird, nice and dry.  The last hour or so was probably the best we had a few speakers, including two from Jobstown, Paul Murphy (famous or infamous depending on who you talk to), some other vibrant and articulate orators.  Then came some wonderful music from all over (a Galway band seems to have struck a chord with me though tragically their name escapes me) to be honest, the tone was more like a festival.

I guess this is my point, I started this account by relating the news of an operation to uncover some criminal element but as someone who has been at near all of these marches, it’s seems self evident to me that these people are not criminals. They are not belligerents, prospective militia men but normal people using their democratic right.  I have seen these people out in all weathers, braving, nobly for something they believe to be honest and fair.  I find this revelation of an operation set up to spy on people based on their political beliefs as worrying to say the least.   Why is there a need for such an operation?  What major action from these “criminals” have we seen to warrant the resources (in a resource strapped Garda) being allocated to such a project?  Does passively resisting water meter installations require the Gardai launching such operation?

From Saturday’s events looking at the family atmosphere and festival vibes, I would re-soundly say, no.

Protest 2

Leave a Reply

© 1991-2014 Fountain Resource Group Ltd. · Registered Company Number: 193051C · RSS · Website designed by Solid Website Design