Thousands march against water charges, but it's about more than that

Thousands of anti-water charge campaigners have taken to the streets of Dublin for a major demonstration ahead of the general election.

The event was organised by the Right2Water/Right2Change movement and attended by election candidates who have aligned themselves with it.

The movement, which is led by community and political representatives and trade unions, wants the controversial charge axed.

It also is critical of the outgoing Fine Gael/Labour government's policies on other social issues, such as housing, employment and health.

Some protestors at the march say they are against water charges, but also against other austerity measures introduced by the current government.

They said: "We're here now at the pre-election march to show the Government that we're not going away, we're not backing down in an way, shape or form.

"This country is in tatters, people are in tatters."

Another protestor said he was at the protest over a range of issues.

He said: "I'm here to protest over water primarily, and the general political set up in this country. We want change."

Protesters from across Ireland braved poor weather conditions to take part in the campaign's last major rally before Friday's election.

Right2Water/Right2Change says 106 candidates vying for seats in the new Dáil are signed up to its principles.

A series of protests was staged across Ireland in January while last August saw tens of thousands of demonstrators take to the streets of Dublin.

Right2Water/Right2Change is backed by trade unions including Mandate, Unite, the Communication Workers Union, power union the TEEU, and the Civil and Public Services Union.

Unite official and Right2Water/Right2Change coordinator Brendan Ogle said today's event represented an "unprecedented show of determination and unity".

"For the first time in our history, people are being offered the opportunity to vote for a real alternative - to vote for change," he claimed.

"I have no doubt that they will seize that opportunity on polling day."

The event organisers estimated the turnout at 80,000.

Mr Ogle said: "The huge turnout at today's demonstration, on the final Saturday before the general election, sends a clear message to the outgoing Government that public anger at water charges remains unabated and will be reflected in the ballot boxes next Friday."


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