Large crowds expected at local antiwater charge demos

Thousands are expected to take part in a number of protests against water charges planned for tomorrow (Saturday) across Offaly.

Marches planned for Tullamore, Edenderry and Birr will take place at 2pm tomorrow, coinciding with a number of other protests planned for towns all across the country on the issue.

Tullamore’s demonstration will begin at O’Connor Park at 2pm, before moving to O’Connor Square in the middle of the town for speeches. Those planning on taking part in Edenderry’s peaceful protest are asked to gather at Edenderry shopping centre at 1.30pm. At 2pm the crowd gathered will march to the town hall. Meanwhile in Birr a protest is planned for 2pm outside the old post office.

Speaking to the Offaly Independent Tullamore businessman and protest organiser Cathal O’Donohue said feedback suggests thousands will attend the Tullamore demonstration.

“We have nearly 900 members on Facebook. If each one of those brought their family, that’s 4,000-5,000 minimum,” he explained, adding that 15,000 leaflets with details of the demonstration have also been delivered to local homes in recent days.

Organisers are calling on locals to join protests against what they describe as an unjust austerity tax. Reasons for coming out in support, they say, include that people are already paying for water through taxation, that the privatisation of water must be fought against, and that money spent on setting up Irish Water would have been beter spent repairing and upgrading water infrastructure.

“I think this will drive it home to the government that what they’re doing is wrong,” Cathal said of the planned demonstrations.

Tullamore councillor Brendan Killeavy also welcomed news of demonstrations this week.

“Water is already paid for by the people with five per cent of motor tax and two per cent of VAT going towards this,” he said.

“The biggest fear people have is that Irish Water could be privatised in the coming years when the water infrastructure is upgraded with public monies and sold to a private company or to the highest bidder,” he added.

“The government are on the ropes over the issue and now is the time to turn up the heat.”