to the streets

PICS: Massive turn-out for 'Bin your Bills' protest in Dublin

People have been advised to expect traffic and travel disruption.

Updated at 5pm

WATER PROTEST 455 Water protesters bin and rip up their water bills at a protest in Dublin this afternoon in front of Leinster House Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

A LARGE ‘BIN your bills’ protest against water charges took place in Dublin today.

It led to delays for some motorists and bus users in the city centre, but also saw a large crowd turn out to have their say about the recently-landed water bills.

water protest 406 Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

The event got underway at the Garden of Remembrance at 2pm.

It involved water protesters gathering to rip up and bin their water bills from Irish Water, in front of Leinster House.

Dublin Bus released updated timetables for this afternoon, and advised passengers to expect delays and diversions.

AA Roadwatch also advised drivers to expect delays as the demonstration makes its way to Leinster House, on Kildare Street.

A crowd of several thousand has been making its way through the city centre, in bright late-spring sunshine chanting ‘we won’t pay’ and other anti-water charge slogans.

Peter McGlynn / YouTube

Snap election?

At a media-op to promote today’s march, left-wing politicians organising a planned mass boycott of Irish Water said they were hoping their campaign might trigger a snap election in the next few months.

The first bills from the contentious utility have been dropping through letterboxes in recent weeks – and groups like the Anti Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit have been calling for householders not to pay them.

water protest 433 Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Leafleting campaigns are also taking place, informing people it will be over a year before they face penalties, under the current charging regime. (Irish Water is encouraging people to register as quickly as possible, in order to ensure they get the correct bill).

People Before Profit councillor John Lyons said there was now “massive momentum” behind the non-payment campaign.

water 0054 Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

“The next six to twelve months could be crucial,” he told reporters on Thursday.

If we’ve a nationwide boycott over the bills over the next six months in particular it could trigger not only a financial and operational crisis in Irish Water – but it could trigger a political crisis for the Government and trigger an early general election.

While it was initially thought that Irish Water would be sending out most – if not all – of its bills in April, the company has since confirmed that it will be June before it’s finished the process of sending out the first tranche of quarterly bills.

Ruth Coppinger of the Anti Austerity Alliance conceded some of the bills that would be ‘binned’ this weekend would have to be mock-ups, as many people are still yet to receive them.

Most activists she had spoken to hadn’t received a bill as yet, the TD said. “It’s been very, very slow.”

Read: What would happen if Sinn Féin scraps Irish Water and water charges?

Read: Irish Water says it’s expecting ‘challenges’ as the first bills are sent out

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