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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 28 July 2021

Businesses aren't AT ALL happy about tomorrow's O'Connell Street protest

They’re calling for the rally to be moved to Merrion Square.

Last October's Right2Water protest, on O'Connell Street.
Last October's Right2Water protest, on O'Connell Street.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Updated at 11pm

DUBLIN TOWN – WHICH represents city centre businesses in the capital – is making an 11th hour appeal to organisers of tomorrow’s Right2Water protest to reconsider their plans.

This weekend’s mass action is the fourth major ‘day of action’ organised by the anti-charges umbrella group – which is backed by some trade unions, left-wing politicians and community activists.

There are three main meeting points for participants – at Merrion Square, Connolly Station and Heuston Station

After meeting at around 1pm, protesters will then converge on O’Connell Street, where a stage will be set up at the Parnell Square end of the thoroughfare. 

“While we fully support the right of people to express their view, we do have concerns with the routes being chosen for the planned protest tomorrow,” CEO of Dublin Town Richard Guiney said in a statement.

“It would appear that the routes are designed to cause maximum disruption to the 375,000 people that the city could expect to welcome on a typical March Saturday.”

The group says it believes that Merrion Square – outside the Oireachtas and Government Buildings – is the most appropriate place for such protests to take place.

“Contrary to claims made by previous protest organisers that protests bring people into the city the opposite is the effect,” the Dublin Town statement said.

“During previous protest our footfall cameras in the city centre have registered declines of 20-35% which mirrors the decline seen in trade of the city’s businesses.

We are also aware that members of the public feel intimidated by protests and choose not to visit the city or choose to leave the city early before the protest starts.

’100% appropriate’

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy said he believed it was “100% appropriate” for protests to take place on O’Connell Street.

“This protest isn’t aimed primarily at the government, it’s aimed at the people. It’s aimed at sending the message that this movement hasn’t gone away.”

While he conceded “some purchases may be delayed” while the actual protest is happening, he said the action was also bringing “tens of thousands” of people into the city centre – many of whom plan to travel from outside Dublin.

The thinking behind the three meeting points was to make sure “everyone has the chance to march,” he said.

It will also be easier to estimate numbers on O’Connell Street he said (there was much debate over turn-out at the last major Right2Water protest, on 10 December).

Tomorrow’s protest is set to be shorter than the pre-Christmas action at Merrrion Square. Murphy said the main speeches would take place at around 1.45pm, and that it was planned the protest would conclude around an hour later.

Read: Anti-water charge float banned from Limerick parade

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