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Dublin: 5°C Monday 19 April 2021

Just how many people protested against water charges yesterday?

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everyone’s talking about 

This morning we’re playing the numbers game and trying to figure out just how many people protested against water charges yesterday. We reported 35,000 on the streets of the capital, the gardaí said 30,000, one newspaper puts it at 50,000, some organisers put it at between 70,00 and 80,000 and others say more than 100,000.

Anti Water Charges Protests. Huge crowds Source: Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland

The difficulty with yesterday was that people were coming and going as the day progressed, but there’s no doubt it was a large turnout for an extremely cold weekday in December — or as one Sinn Féin parliamentarian put it “the largest weekday protest in Dublin in decades”.

Will it change anything? Newspaper editorials this morning differ on whether it should but the government is resolute in saying that it won’t. The charges regime announced last month is the coalition’s final say on this issue as far as ministers are concerned.

The agenda

  • Enda Kenny is Northern Ireland with British prime minister David Cameron and the various parties for talks on flags, parades and the past as they try to broker a pre-Christmas deal. 
  • President Michael D Higgins’s State visit to China continues as he visits Shanghai. 
  • 9.30am: The banking inquiry holds another private meeting ahead of public hearings next week. 
  • 10am: The Public Accounts Committee is talking Credit Unions with officials from the Central Bank and Department of Finance. 
  • 10.45am: The Dáil will spend much of the day debating the final stages of the Water Services Bill which legislates for some of the changes announced last month. 
  • 12pm: With the Tánaiste joining the Taoiseach for talks in the North it’s Brendan Howlin’s turn to take Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil.

Inside Leinster House… 

The quiet relief among government backbenchers was palpable in Leinster House yesterday. The water protest turnout was sizeable but not as alarming as October’s mass rally. For the first time in a while water was not raised at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting last night but TDs and Senators were making demands for reform of USC which could become the next big issue for the coalition.

What the others are saying

  • The Irish Times reports that the government is considering a so-called ‘spring statement’ to stagger the budget process and economic announcements. It would operate similarly to the Autumn Statement in the UK.
  • Ryan Tubridy has called for Enda Kenny to “man up” and save Childline’s 24-hour helpline, according to the Irish Examiner.
  • Enda Kenny’s speech writer, Miriam O’Callaghan, is quitting her role next month, according to the Irish Sun. Not this Miriam, we hasten to add:

Blue September. Pictured Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

In case you missed it 

On the tweet machine

How is this even possible?


About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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