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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 25 April, 2019
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"I voted Fine Gael. I thought they were going to be the bees knees."

The mistrust and anger at the Government parties was palpable, as crowds gathered from the train and the Luas at Heuston this morning.

Updated at 8.01pm

SOME CARRYING PLACARDS, some Sinn Féin banners, still others carrying bags with gifts for the homeless — the crowds taking the Luas and the train to Heuston Station this morning made for a diverse congregation.

Some groups, from Tallaght and Jobstown, had arranged to meet outside the train station to march to the Dáil.

Others, traveling from Cork, Limerick and elsewhere, simply stumbled upon the gathering protesters as they made their own way to the city centre.

TheJournal.ie took the Red Line from The Square at 10.44am.

Here’s who we met…

The first-time protester

A mother of four grown-up children from Clondalkin, Madeleine says she’d never taken part in any kind of protest until this year.

The water charges were different.

“We can’t afford to pay anymore. The country — and me personally.

I’ve four grown-up children all at home. I’m a carer for my dad, and it’s just money out all the time.

“My husband gets paid every second week… At the end of the month, when the mortgage comes out and everything else and all the bills — that’s a really bad week for us. We’d be in the red.”

Madeleine carries a Dunnes Stores bag packed with Christmas Gifts for the homeless. Source: Daragh Brophy

On the subject of the Government climb-down on charges the other week, and the promises that Budget tax cuts would more than make up for outgoings on water:

I don’t believe them – I don’t believe it will stay at that level.

“Yesterday, their motion of confidence in themselves was a joke.

They are going to have to climb down, because there is going to be mass non-payment when the bills come in. I didn’t send back my pack — I burnt it.

Despite the Taoiseach’s reassurances, Madeleine says she’s still worried water could be privatised.

And on the subject of the infamous Jobstown protest — when Tánaiste Joan Burton was trapped in her car for hours, and a number of people were arrested for violent behaviour.

“I think a lot of it probably happened afterwards.

“This whole ‘sinister fringe’ — I don’t know. We’re nothing compared to the way things would be in Italy or Greece or whatever, its been very quiet.

I don’t condone anger or violence in any way —- and it certainly won’t come to that today. It’s about people protesting.

The repentant Fine Gael voter

Peter Kirwan — fresh off the train from Limerick — admits voting for Fine Gael at the last election, but feels seriously let down by Enda Kenny’s party.

“There’s no trust. You can’t trust them. They’d buy and sell you — and there’s no doubt about it —  it’s going to be privatised.”

A retired motor mechanic, Peter says he had high hopes for the coalition.

I voted Fine Gael. I thought they were going to be the bees knees.

“I talked all my kids into voting Fine Gael. And what did we get? A load of lies and deceit and dishonesty. You can’t trust them.”

Peter Kirwan, and fellow Limerick protester Noel Doran. Source: Daragh Brophy/TheJournal.ie

The water charges were the “tipping point” he says — previously, he’d been willing to keep up his own end of what he believed was an unspoken bargain with the Government.

“I paid my property taxes I felt that was it…. No more.

But now…

“The tipping point has come and gone…

There’s no more blood to be given.

The carer

Wendy McCormack, from Bluebell, is a mother of nine children — aged between 6 and 24. She receives a carers allowance of €293 a week, as her 17-year-old son has Cerebral Palsy.

Wendy says she was “petrified” when the initial charging regime came in. Three of her kids are over 18, and her three teenage girls are “in the shower three times a day”.

She wasn’t relieved “at all” when the revised scheme was announced last month.

“I won’t be paying one cent water altogether.

I’m a carer. I’ve a disabled son. My husband works part time. I’ve nine children. I can’t afford to pay. I haven’t got the money to pay it.

“What my mother had and what my granny had for free, I’m not going to start paying for and my kids aren’t going to start paying for.”

LIVEBLOG: Follow the protests throughout the day here >

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