Longford protestors laud water charges rally

Some of the Longford contingent that travelled to Dublin last Wednesday, December 10 and participated in the water charges protest.
Up to 40 demonstrators from Co Longford joined the tens of thousands who brought

Up to 40 demonstrators from Co Longford joined the tens of thousands who brought

Dublin city centre to a standstill, many of whom

brandished placards against the imminent charges.

Local organiser Tena Keown said the decision to join last Wednesday’s march had been worthwhile.

“It was absolutely unbelievable,” said a clearly upbeat Ms Keown.

She laughed off differing reports over the precise numbers who had turned out for the midweek march, insisting the final number was well in excess of 80,000.

“There was a huge crowd and the atmosphere was great.

“Merrion Street was closed off and when we went up West Moreland Street where were squashed in like sardines,” she said.

Much like the Longford protest of five weeks earlier, banners bearing the slogan ‘Longford says no’ could be seen amongst the crowds.

“People were shouting ‘No way we won’t pay’ and ‘Enda out, out, out’.

“Even though it got a bit chaotic at one stage, it went peacefully which was important.”

Ms Keown said no decision had been made as to whether she intended travelling to the next water protest set for January, indicating a smaller scale one might be held locally.

“There is supposed to be another one (protest) coming up,” she said.

“We might have one in Longford to coincide with it.”

The water charges affair has been a long-running bone of contention for successive governments since their proposed introduction four years ago.

Initially, water bills were mooted to be as high as €600 a year for some families.

Following significant concontroversy and a number of high profile protests, the Government was forced a climbdown of sorts.

Last month Environment Minister Alan Kelly announced a revised package with capped costs for the next four years.

But promises by the Tipperary TD to play down last week’s protests by insisting water charges would remain in place were roundly condemned by Ms Keown.

“He (Mr Kelly) must be living on another planet,” she said.

“Either that or he doesn’t watch the TV or read the newspapers.”

Meanwhile, the Irish Water Bill is due to be debated in the Dail and Seanad this week and there is considerable speculation it may be rejected at Seanad level.