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"If I were the Government, I'd be worried": Hundreds attend anti-water charges protest

It follows the publication of figures from Irish Water showing less than half of customers have paid their bills.

Image: Sam Boal

Updated at 6.50pm

TRAFFIC RESTRICTIONS ARE in place around Kildare Street in Dublin city centre this evening, as a protest against water charges takes place outside the Dáil.

Around 200 – 250 people are attending the largely peaceful protest, organised by umbrella protest group Communities Against Water Charges, with the number swelling as 6pm approached.

Gardaí were seen leading one man outside the gates of Leinster House this evening – however, it appears he was just being told to ‘move on’ from the scene.

A spokesperson for the force said there hadn’t been any arrests confirmed.

Peaceful

Gardaí operated a steel cordon system to block off Molesworth St, and were not allowing most people to pass through towards Buswell’s Hotel and on to Kildare St.

However, the majority of pedestrians coming the other way were allowed through to Molesworth St. Some protesters were located outside Leinster House.

A group of around five protesters gathered at the gate to the cordon, asking gardaí repeatedly to allow them through, but they were not allowed.

A number of Greek flags were seen at the protest.

At one point, a film crew passed into the crowd. Shouts of “Denis O’Brien” were directed at them, but the crew said they were a French TV crew. “That’s OK, we just want the truth reported,” said one woman in response.

This evening’s protest follows the release of figures showing less than half of Irish Water customers have paid their bills for the first three months of this year.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie at the protest, Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett – who was not involved in the organising of the event – said:

The legislation which the government are using to try to fool people really as to the power they have to undermine the boycott is happening tomorrow, and I think people are right to protest against that and to really celebrate the fact we have a clear majority to heed the call for a boycott, and if I were the government I’d be worried.
The people have made it very clear they don’t want to pay these charges: they feel they are unjust and it’s a pity the government wouldn’t listen.

Boyd Barrett said that “to have a majority of people boycotting is a big problem for the government and is a big victory for the anti-water charges campaign”.

I think if anything it’s going to give confidence to people who maybe didn’t boycott the first bill to boycott the second one.

The TD said he believes that the government should abandon the charges, and if they don’t, “the boycott campaign is likely to escalate and we will see very large national demonstrations again at the end of August”.

A planned protest at the Dáil last week failed to materialise.

Protests the previous week saw two Senators temporarily abandon their cars on Kildare Street, amid clashes between demonstrators and gardaí.

15/7/2015. Irish Water Protest. Gardai remove a pr Source: Sam Boal
https://vine.co/v/erMehgWa295

With reporting by Daragh Brophy.

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