Water charge protests

A rolling look at today's demonstrations against Irish Water in Dublin

Dan Griffin Wed, Dec 10
 
LIVE: Water charge protests

Sort by:

  • Latest first
  • Oldest first
  • This event has now ended
  • 11:48
  • 11:52
    It begins. The third, large-scale anti-water charge protest takes place in Dublin this afternoon. Previous demonstrations saw (estimated!) hundreds of thousands of marchers flood the capital's streets. Those protests took place on weekends though and it's a bigger ask to get big numbers on a weekday. Going from media reports, somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 people are expected to demonstrate today.
  • 11:56

    Previous protests spooked the Government. Concessions were made, the proposed cost of water fell. But speaking to reporters earlier this morning, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly said the Coalition was not for turning (anymore).


    “I don’t envisage anything changing. This is completely necessary. I don’t envisage anything changing in relation to the [water] package at all,” he said outside Leinster House.

  • 11:59

    The Minister also took a pop a Phil Hogan, the predecessor from whom he received the poisoned chalice of Irish Water.

    "Mistakes were made and I hold my hands up and say that happened—mistakes were made. Do I think it could have been handled better by the minister who preceded me? Yes.”

  • 12:03

    Kelly was also asked about comments made last night by Fergus O'Dowd in which the Fine Gael TD and former minister of state raised concerns about the privatisation of Irish Water, saying dark forces were at work.

    "I don’t really know what Fergus O’Dowd is talking about. To be frank I haven’t a clue," said Kelly.

  • 12:04
  • 12:06
  • 12:10

    From our coverage in today's paper:

    Gardaí are preparing for potential traffic disruption in parts of Dublin. According to organisers, marches organised by local grassroots campaign groups will begin from up to 10 locations north and south of the Liffey.

    The largest numbers are expected to take part in marches from Heuston Station, Harold’s Cross and the Garden of Remembrance between 11am and noon. The main stage for the demonstration will be located at the junction of Merrion Square South and Merrion Square West.

    Feeder marches from the north of the city will access the assembly at the corner of Clare Street and Merrion Square North near the Mont Clare Hotel.

    Feeder marches from the south of the city will access the assembly at the corner of Merrion Square South, Fitzwilliam Street Lower and Mount Street Upper near the ESB offices.

    An area in front of the stage will be cordoned off for people with disabilities, those with a role in the proceedings, and the media.

  • 12:14

    Our man Ciaran D'Arcy is out getting the opinions of the protesters. Here's what some of them have to say (it won't be the last time you hear the refrain, "it's the straw that broke the camel's back" today):

    "It’s not just water, that’s just the instigator that brought about the protest, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back eventually, and people are here protesting for a multitude of reasons."- Niall Buckley, 34, Offaly

    "We need to send them a message. We need at least 100,000, and then they might listen."- Philip Logue, 52, Ennis

    "You see the Taoiseach there and him banging the table, thinking he’s going to be there for another four or five years, well I tell you - the people are going to tell him that he’s not going to be there." Cyril Kavanagh, 58, Cork City

    "It’s guaranteed it will be privatised, like everything else, and all these concessions the Government are giving - in two years’ time they’ll be gone." Jemma Curran, 53, Newbridge

  • 12:25
    A chaste protester displaying his placards before today's march. Photograph: Daniel O'Connor
    A chaste protester displaying his placards before today's march. Photograph: Daniel O'Connor
  • 12:33
    Strife over water is escalating across the world. A survey in the journal, Water Policy, found that half the world’s cities with populations over 100,000 are located in “water-scarce” areas. Even where water abounds on city fringes, such as in Detroit and Dublin, cities “are struggling to access additional water supplies to support their continued growth”, writes Kathy Sheridan today.
  • 12:38
    An Irish Times photographer waiting near O'Connell Bridge says a reasonable crowd has just crossed the Liffey. Size is important today. Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy this morning said protesters had the Government "on the run". But if the crowds fail to materialise assumptions will be drawn that Government concessions in the wake of earlier protests have mollified the public.
  • 12:39
  • 12:40
  • 12:42
    Protesters are now amassing at the Nassau Street end of Kildare Street where gardaí have erected a barrier to block the demonstration. They'll have to keep going around to Merrion Square.
  • 12:44
  • 12:51
  • 13:03
  • 13:05
  • 13:07
  • 13:11
  • 13:16

    People are arriving at Merrion square in their thousands now. The protest was a bit slow getting started so crowds there are expected to swell. Expect an estimate on numbers later on. And then expect an ill-tempered disupte over the accuracy of that figure.  

  • 13:19
  • 13:23
    Protesters outside Leinster House. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
    Protesters outside Leinster House. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
  • 13:26
    Speaking on the News at One, Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan says: "There's a sense of empowerment of the people now. People feel that they actually have their power back."
  • 13:30
    Some of the biggest disagreements that have taken place at cabinet have been over water, says Labour's Aodhán Ó Ríordain. He says Alan Kelly has a "completely different approach" to communicating the issues around Irish Water than his predecessor Phil Hogan. You hear that quite a bit from Labour. They must have been delighted to see the back of Hogan.
  • 13:31
  • 13:31
  • 13:37

    Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, also on RTÉ, says after the troika left "the Government became quite arrogant quite frankly and we stopped listening".

    He says the result of the local elections were a wake up for the Government. But he goes on to add that there will be no more concessions on water charges, that to do so would be giving in to a minority.

    He also said matters falling under his Department of Health brief, such as the scandal uncovered by last night's Prime Time, trolley waiting times and things such as employment as well are more important than the water controversy.

  • 13:42
  • 13:46
  • 13:48
  • 13:55
    Anti-water charge protesters make their way through College Green. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
    Anti-water charge protesters make their way through College Green. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
  • 13:56
    Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
    Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
  • 13:57
    Gardaí and protesters at the junction of Kildare Street and Nassau Street. Photograph: Alan Betson
    Gardaí and protesters at the junction of Kildare Street and Nassau Street. Photograph: Alan Betson
  • 14:03
  • 14:12
  • 14:19
    The creativity of many of the protesters can be commended. Not this one though, who clearly gave up on his placard when the paint started to run.
    The creativity of many of the protesters can be commended. Not this one though, who clearly gave up on his placard when the paint started to run.
  • 14:22
    That'll clear the crowds anyway. Wha? Wha?
  • 14:27
  • 14:28
  • 14:37
    Clare Daly and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams have addressed the crowd of protesters at Merrion Square, praising them for marching against water charges.
  • 14:40
    Gardaí have estimated today's turnout to be "in excess of 30,000", a spokeswoman for the force said.
  • 14:51
  • 14:52
    TD Séamus Healy now leading a chant along now in Merrion Square. "Enda Kenny! Not a Penny!" And so on.
  • 14:54
    Councillor Bríd Smith has just taken to the stage to urge members of the crowd not to break away to join a second protest which is currently amassing outside the GPO. There's only one Right2Water demonstration today, she tells the gathering.
  • 14:55
    She calls for another nationwide protest in January.
  • 14:59

    "I think we need a referendum now," says singer Damien Dempsey who has just taken to the stage. "We have to get it into the constitution that they can't privatise our water."

    He's playing music now.

  • 15:09
  • 15:09
    The honour is all his.
  • 15:11
  • 15:13
  • 15:18
  • 15:19
    Meanwhile
  • 15:27
  • 15:30
    We are checking reports of a protester being knocked down by a jeep on Talbot St bridge.
  • 15:34
  • 15:35
  • 15:36
  • 15:37
    O'Connell Street now reportedly filling up with protesters.
  • 15:39
  • 15:41
  • 15:47
    Gardaí say two arrests have been made during today's protests. They also say they have received reports that a garda was injured during the demonstrations.
  • 15:53
  • 15:59

    “They thought that by giving minor concessions that the people of this country would be bought off…they were wrong,” says Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald back at Merrion Square before calling for the abolition of water charges.

  • 16:03
    Earlier today the gardaí said more than 30,000 protesters turned out in Dublin. They said that figure could change as the day went on. A figure of 100,000 has also been reported online (not by the gardaí). Brendan Ogle has claimed the crowd was between 70,000 and 80,000.
  • 16:06
    Our reporter says Nassau Street is blocked.
    Our reporter says Nassau Street is blocked.
  • 16:06
  • 16:08
    The main Right2Water protest was due to end at 4pm. Activity seems to be continuing around the city.
  • 16:13
    About 10 people have now started a sit-down protest at the junction of Nassau Street and Kildare Street. There are hundreds of other demonstrators in the area and, our reporter Ciaran D'Arcy says, "nearly as many guards". The road is completely blocked and protesters are demanding to be allowed march up Kildare Street where gardaí in riot gear are currently assembled.
  • 16:22
    The scene near O'Connell Bridge in the last 15 minutes or so. Photograph: Zara Zhuang
    The scene near O'Connell Bridge in the last 15 minutes or so. Photograph: Zara Zhuang
  • 16:29
    Watch the Irish Times video report from today's anti-water charge protests.
  • 16:30
  • 16:33
  • 16:37
    Traffic wedged on Tara Street. A bus outside the window has moved about five metres in the past half hour.
  • 16:39
    Garda riot squad on Kildare Street have returned to their vans,  RTÉ reporting.
  • 16:47
  • 16:55

    What really spooked the Coalition about November 2nd was the composition of the crowds, rather than its accumulated size, writes Irish Times political correspondent Fiach Kelly.

    Fine Gael and Labour TDs looked at those marching up their main streets and saw middle-ground voters who would be their natural supporters.

    On the surface, therein lies the difference with today. A walk around Merrion Square and its surrounding areas suggest that today’s protest is comprised mainly of Sinn Féin and groups of the left.

    While it is still early, those in Government are claiming they are more comfortable this evening as a result.

  • 17:02
  • 17:05
    Hundreds of uniformed gardaí and their colleagues from the Public Order Unit locked down Dáil Éireann and Government Buildings in Dublin city on Wednesday afternoon as tens of thousands of people gathered to protest against the introduction of water charges. Read Conor Lally's report here.
  • 17:13
    O'Connell Bridge remains closed. Gardaí estimate crowd of 35,000 "at most".
  • 17:20
    The protest has gone too far.
  • 17:35
    And with that we bring our live water protest coverage to an end. Butt Bridge has reportedly been reopened but delays remain across the city. The Luas red is only running between Smithfield and Tallaght. Thanks for reading, take care.