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Water protesters on the northside are planning a major action

Rank-and-file gardaí have warned there’s now a “darker element” at work in the Dublin protests, but grassroots campaigners say entirely reject that charge.

Updated 6:50 

WATER CHARGE PROTESTERS on the northside of Dublin are planning a large-scale action today, in light of what they say is unfair press coverage, and criticism from rank-and-file gardaí.

It follows violent scenes at a demonstration outside Coolock Garda Station this week, after three people were arrested during a protest at a sports club in Santry.

Some protesters alleged afterwards that pepper spray was used to try and disperse the crowd (and gardaí haven’t said whether it was or not).

Source: Cllr. John Lyons - The scene at Coolock Garda Station this week

Ongoing protests

Demonstrations — by members of various groups, including  ‘Dublin Says No’, ‘Edenmore Says No’, ‘Ayrfield and Rathvale Against Water Charges’ and various others — have been taking place in various estates across the wider Dublin 5 and Dublin 13 areas since April of this year.

Some of those taking part have been criticised for their approach to the demonstrations — in particular, for filming workers installing meters and uploading the footage to the internet. In some videos, the protesters can be seen verbally harassing the workers, and standing in the path of equipment.

An umbrella group, known as Communities Against Water Charges, has now been formed, encompassing the smaller groups.

In a statement, the organisation says it’s made up of residents of “a number of communities in Dublin North East” who have come together to oppose the installation of meters.

A protest in Grangemore, Donaghmede, last week (Dublin Says No)

“Sinister fringe”

Gardaí responding to protests in housing estates in recent weeks have been accused of heavy-handedness by activists.

However, the Garda Representative Association have also expressed concerns over the danger being posed to their members by protesters, stating that some of their members had been attacked.

James Askin, a spokesperson for Communities Against Water Charges, said that while there were no concrete plans for protests as yet, campaigners would be monitoring any meter installations, and organising rolling demonstrations in response.

He said people should check social media to keep track of them.

The actions would be peaceful, he insisted, adding:

This is not about getting down and trying to intimidate people in their work.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said earlier this week that there was now a “sinister fringe” of violent protesters involved in the movement. The GRA’s statement also warned of a “darker element”.

Askin, however, said he entirely rejected those claims, and reiterated the group’s claims that gardaí were being unnecessarily forceful in their response to the protests.

Originally posted 09 November 

Read: People who don’t pay water charges will NOT have their supply reduced or cut off, says Minister>

Leo Varadkar: There’s a ‘sinister fringe’ of violent Irish Water protesters

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