Irish Republican News · November 22, 2014
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Water protests defy clampdown, smears
Water protests defy clampdown, smears

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A government backbench TD has described water charge protestors in Dublin as “parasites” and warned that Ireland faces “an ISIS situation” if protests are not “nipped in the bud”.

Noel Coonan, a TD for Tipperary North, was speaking during the course of a parliamentary debate on the water charges this week. He was referring to the militant group known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria which has carried out ethnic massacres and beheadings as part of a jihadist campaign in the Middle East.

Coonan is the latest government TD to attempt to blacken and smear the anti-water charges campaign, even as the authorities have resorted to increasing violence.

“I think that that [the protests] needs to be nipped in the bud,” said Coonan. “The people have given that signal to us now: nip that in the bud. If not we’re facing what is potentially an ISIS situation in Middle East if those people are allowed get on to do what they’re doing. God help this country and people realise that. So we have to nip that in the bud.”

He later added: “The protesters in Dublin act like parasites and live off country people as they have never acknowledged the role of country people.”

The latest condemnations follows a large protest against the water tax in the financially struggling community of Jobstown in Dublin saw Tanaiste Joan Burton delayed for over two hours on Saturday. The hold-up was described by government TDs as a “kidnapping”. Gardai used pepper spray to attack crowds around the government vehicles, including women and children.

A sit-down protest was also set upon by police, with newly-elected Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy stripped half naked. Young and old were dragged along the road. But it was a water balloon thrown at the Minister and a brick later thrown at a police vehicle which triggered hours of hostile media coverage and political denunciations by the mainstream political parties.

The government has previously sought to portray the water campaign as an “extremist” one, with dire warnings earlier this month by Fine Gael Minister Leo Varadkar of the involvement of a “sinister fringe”.

The Republican Network for Unity rejected the government’s condemnation of the protests.

“If Ms Burton was resident on Mars, she couldn’t be more out of touch with the Irish electorate,” they said. “She has absolutely no concept of the reality of living with the decisions that she and the Dublin government have forced upon the people of Ireland.”

On Sunday, a woman said she would seek legal advice after she was violently thrown to the ground by gardai. Fiona Healy - a member of the ‘Dublin Says No’ anti-austerity group - was protesting against water charges outside the Mansion House in the city centre. As she approached the Taoiseach’s car, she was suddenly grabbed and hurled into a metal bollard on the footpath.

Ms Healy said she didn’t hit the bollard but believed that she struck the kerb, and was “black and blue” from the incident, having sustained bad bruising to her right hip.

LAST STRAW

In Sligo, scuffles again erupted on Tuesday evening around Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s car, which was also blocked for a period.

A small group of anti-water charges protesters surrounded Mr Kenny’s car, banging it with placards, while one man briefly climbed on the bonnet.

“From what I could see they had no regard for women and children,” Mr Kenny later said -- referring to the protestors.

But several of those present pointed out that this was their first protest with many saying the charge was “the last straw”.

Local woman Ursula McCaffrey said she had lost her job and was now on the dole. She did not believe the charge would remain as low as the government promised mid-week.

“It will be like the property tax - it will go up and up”, she said.

Kenny was also heckled by about 300 water charge protesters in Cork on Friday morning. Protesters expressed their opposition to the government’s plans with chants such as “Enda Kenny, Not a Penny” and ‘You can shove your water meters up your arse”.

Vigils have also been taking place in Tallaght and outside Coolock Garda Station, where women have been mainly protesting against the heavy-handed policing of protests.

“We organised this vigil to bring some positivity back into Tallaght after recent events,” said Sinn Fein councillor Louise Dunne.

“Jobstown and other areas of Tallaght are continuously misrepresented and there has been over five days of a sustained onslaught by media and politicians even though 99% of the protesters were peaceful.

“The water charges campaign has agitated a movement of people, young, old, male and female, who have never been activists before. The young people here are empowering themselves through peaceful protest, and this will continue.”

SIPTU SUPPORT

Meanwhile, in a surprise development, the Siptu trade union said it will work with other unions about future demonstrations against the new charges.

Ireland’s most right-wing trade union previously refused to join with Right2Water, an umbrella group backed by other unions and left-wing groups. But responding to the “regressive” flat billing regime revealed by the government this week, it has vowed to work with the campaign towards an “agreed approach” against the fees.

Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD said the announcement was an extremely positive development.

“It is essential that any campaign against water charges is as broad and as inclusive as possible and should include SIPTU,” she said.

“The SIPTU National Executive has clearly seen that the Government’s announcement this week is not a progressive step for the future of water services in Ireland.

“I am calling on the leadership of SIPTU to work with us in the build up to the Right 2 Water rally on December 10th and to work to achieve the stated aims of the campaign.”

© 2014 Irish Republican News