Fighting against water charges in Ireland

The battle against the implementation of water charges continues across the 26 Counties, although the story is no longer on the front pages of the mainstream media as it was in November and December 2014. 40% of households have still not completed the self-registration forms which the government sent to every household in the country in what can only have been a fit of blind optimism.

10 December saw a mass march against the charges in which 100,000 people gathered on a Wednesday afternoon in Dublin; bridges were blocked by protesters and the city came to a standstill for many hours.

The coalface of the struggle however, has been on the streets in the early mornings around the country’s working class estates, where daily pickets and blockades are stopping the installation of the water meters. GMC/Sierra, the company awarded the installation contract, is owned by Dennis O’Brien, Ireland’s most prominent oligarch. In November GMC/Sierra took out an injunction against nine activists who were blockading installation work in north Dublin. This did not stop the militancy of the resistance. GMC/Sierra has therefore been back to court to seek further injunctions which have so far been refused by the courts.

Protesters also have to bear the brunt of bully-boy behaviour from the police, with many disturbing videos of Garda heavy-handedness doing the rounds on social media.

Socialist republicans (the Irish Republican Socialist Party and the 1916 Societies) have been at the forefront of widening the campaign to include regular pickets of Topaz (Shell) petrol stations, which are another piece of the Dennis O’Brien pie, with stations brought to a standstill on a weekly basis. The broadening of the struggle and the militancy of the resistance stand as a firm warning to the government – when our backs are against the wall our only option is to push back!

John Byrne

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 243 February/March 2015

 

Ireland: the key to the British revolution by David Reed

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