By Eoin Molloy
A protest in opposition to the new water charge was staged in Galway city this afternoon, Saturday 1 November.
The Connacht Tribune estimated that the size of the crowd, who began marching from Spanish Arch and finished at Eyre Square, was around 3000 in number. However, some estimates put the size of the crowd at around 6000 strong.
The organisers of the protests included Right2Water Galway and the Socialist Party. The impressive protest was largely orchestrated by a successful Facebook campaign.
The column of protesters chanted a number of catchy slogans including: ‘No way we won’t pay’, ‘Enda Kenny not a penny’, ‘Irish Water hear me clear, we don’t want your meters here’, and finally ‘from the river to the sea Irish water will be free.’
The Galway protests were held in line with around 80 other protests around the country. The Dublin protests were the largest, with crowds of protesters blocking the N81 Tallaght bypass.
This was far from an urban-exclusive movement, however. Hundreds turned up at protests in villages around the country, as seen in this Twitter photo taken in Duleek, County Meath:
Irish Water Ltd is facing stiff opposition from the public. Week after week, there is a fresh controversy for the embattled company to deal with. From call-out charges to the proposed employee bonuses, it seems as though Irish Water are doing all they can to antagonise the public.
The protest was the largest seen in Galway in living memory, perhaps signalling the slowly dissolving political apathy of the electorate. They have finally had enough of austerity. For now, it seems clear that a large section of the Irish public ‘can’t and won’t’ pay.
It remains to be seen whether Fine Gael will be able to introduce enough concessions to win back the electorate in time for the 2016 general election. For now, it appears as though they will be wiped out.