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Julien Behal

As it happened: Tens of thousands protest against water charges

We followed the demonstrations as they took place around the country.

TODAY SAW MORE than 100,000 people taking to the streets of towns and cities all over Ireland to protest against the introduction of water charges.

We liveblogged the demonstrations, and reaction to them, as they happened, from 11am.

Here’s how it all went.

Will you be attending a protest? That’s what we’re asking in today’s poll. Here’s the reaction so far:

water charge poll

To add yourself to the mix, just click here.

The protests are kicking off at a range of different times – according to Right2Water, some began at 11am, while others won’t begin until 2pm.

It says that over 90 protests have been arranged so far.

Protests against the charges won’t just be taking place in Ireland, according to this reader:

Phil Hogan – the new EU Agriculture Commissioner and former Minister for the Environment – says that it’s either water charges or more income tax.

Speaking to Newstalk yesterday, he said:

I understand the depth of feeling there is for various reasons with people at a time when they’ve gone through an awful lot of pain but at the end of the day there is a choice to be made. You pay as you use for a service or you pay more in income tax.

What are your thoughts on his comments? Tell us below.

How are news outlets abroad reporting on today’s protests?

Here’s the Guardian’s headline. It says that Ireland is facing “mounting anger” over the charges, and that the protests have been “likened to the revolt against the poll tax in Britain”.

guardian water charges The Guardian The Guardian

Some politicians have been tweeting about attending their local protest, like Nessa Childers:

And here’s what’s said to be the Tallaght protest crowd:

And Finglas:

Evaluating protest numbers is always more an art than a science, but organisers are offering some provisional figures already:

We’ve heard plenty from the capital so far, but we’re finally seeing a lively presence from around the country.

One national organiser gave us an estimate of 97 marches in total throughout Ireland – remember to send your photos into

Oh the irony: The rain is already bucketing down, especially in the south of the country, and Met Éireann has put a rainfall warning in place for Munster and South Leinster, with 20 to 30 mm expected this afternoon and evening.


Today’s protests are expected to top 100,000 people. How will they compare to some of the biggest and most significant demonstrations in recent Irish history?

Here’s some context:

IN IMAGES: A brief history of the Irish protest

Million Mask March protest Niall Carson Niall Carson

Here’s the view of the crowd at Swords, which Right To Water (one of the campaigning groups against water charges) has just tweeted. With the weather as it is, Dublin has escaped much of the rain so far, whereas inclement conditions could potentially impact on other parts of the country:

Some more photos from around the country (lots of brollies to be seen here, so perhaps the worries about inclement weather a bit premature):

In Dublin, there is a crowd waiting at Connolly Station, as captured by our colleague Christine Bohan:




As we said earlier, crowd numbers are an inexact science – one national organiser, Right2Water, is saying that their early estimations are there were about 1000 people in Phibsboro, 2000 in Shannon, 500 in Bandon, 1000 in Ringsend/Pearse St, and about 650 in Blessington. That hasn’t been confirmed by gardaí.

More photos from around the country:



Minister of State Ged Nash was just on RTÉ, where he said that “serious mistakes” were made in the establishment of Irish Water, and that the timeframe was “very ambitious and very exacting”.

Asked about the charges, he said that over the next few weeks the Government “will introduce a new range of packages that will be fair and transparent”.

He reiterated Phil Hogan’s comments when he said:

We either pay for [water] through a direct charging system or we do it through additional income taxes.

He also said that Irish Water “needs to be accountable”.

The main way people are spreading the word about attending water charge protests is through social media, so it wasn’t a surprise to see this:

Despite what looks like torrential rain, there’s a particularly strong turnout in Tralee this afternoon, with organisers estimating 4,500 protesters there.

The demonstration in the town is causing heavy traffic delays, according to AA Roadwatch.

Towns and cities all over Ireland are quite simply being filled with water protests. Here’s just a selection of readers’ photos from around the country, which are flying in to

Cork city

corkwater Dennis O'Brien Dennis O'Brien

Celbridge, Co Kildare


Blanchardstown Town Centre, Dublin 15

blanch Anthony Clarke Anthony Clarke

Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary

carrickonsuir Daryl Walsh Daryl Walsh

Waterford city

waterford Aidan Dunne Aidan Dunne

After a relatively quiet early afternoon in Dublin city centre, protesters are now starting to converge in massive numbers:

Adebayo Flynn

Is this the most impressive-looking crowd of the day so far?

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald was at the water charges protest in Cabra in north Dublin earlier, where she called today “a triumphant day for democracy.”

The protests today are not just a show of anger against epic mismanagement and a government once again failing the vulnerable.

People have come out today in their hundreds and thousands because they simply cannot afford to pay these charges.

By the way, in case you missed it earlier, we asked every TD and Senator if they’ll be paying their water charges.

You might find their answers interesting, to say the least.

They’re making some noise in Wicklow town this afternoon.

(Video via Kevin Doyle)

Video / YouTube

Here’s an early projection on a possible overall turnout:

Ok, with most marches breaking up or finished, here’s a roundup of SOME provisional turnout figures provided by organisers.


Walkinstown 5,000

Phibsboro 1,000

Ringsend 1,000

Swords 4,000

Tallaght 1,500

Rialto 1,200

Ballyfermot 1,000

Cabra 1,200

Stoneybatter 200

Blanchardstown 4,000

Waterford city 10,000


Carrick-on-Shannon 2,000

LOUTHDrogheda 1,700




Naas 2,500

Leixlip 650

Maynooth 700

Celbridge 1,000




Kells 400


Navan 5,000




Carrick-on-Suir 1,000

Cashel 500

Nenagh 1,200

KERRYTralee 4,500




Shannon 2,000




Bandon 500




Blessington 650




Boyle 700

Roscommon town 2,500

The Right2Water campaign, one of the leading organisers of today’s protests, has estimated the turnout to be “well over 150,000″ at more than 100 marches nationwide.

Here’s part of the statement they’ve just issued:

Despite torrential rain, our expectations have been massively exceeded, with well over 150,000 people coming out in every neighbourhood, town and village…

Details of a major rally outside the Dail on December 10th – International Human Rights Day – will be announced during the coming days.

We would stress that those figures are unofficial and provided by organisers, but they also say there are many towns and local communities who haven’t yet reported turnouts.

An Garda Síochána aren’t offering their own figures, or commenting on existing estimates.

Before we go, here’s another round-up of some of the best of your photos from across Ireland today:

Spotted in Dungarvan, Co Waterford

dungarvan Cassie Kirby Cassie Kirby

Drogheda, Co Louth


The Umbrella Revolution comes to Ballinasloe, Co Galway

ballinasloe Luke Mac an Bháird Luke Mac an Bháird

Bray, Co Wicklow

bray Brendan Murphy Brendan Murphy

Wexford town

wexford Tom Harpur Tom Harpur

And from the Twittersphere…


That’s all, folks.

Whether you were frantically emailing us photos, tweeting tips, or making your contribution to the comments section – thanks for joining in and staying with us since 11 this morning.

If you were marching on the streets, go somewhere warm and dry for the rest of the evening.

Good night!

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