Storm of protest follows jailing of water campaigners

Thousands vent their anger in Dublin Rally.

Fine Gael national conference venue in Castlebar targeted by campaigners from Sligo, Leitrim, Galway and Dublin.

Ellis condemns jailing as ‘scandal’

Sligo News File Online.

Nearly 8,000 gathered in Dublin to express their anger over
the jailing and arrest of anti-water charge activists.The protesters,
led by families of jailed campaigners, later marched to Mountjoy where they were addressed by leaders of the national anti water charges campaign.

Describing the jailing of the water charge protesters as a scandal and calling for their immediate release, Dublin Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis said their detention was wrong.

“They have been jailed for peaceful protest and for exercising their democratic rights as citizens.

“This jail where we gather today has seen thousands of people locked up for political reasons in the past 150 years – republicans, women’s rights campaigners, trade unionists, Concerned Parents Against Drugs, the Rossport Five and now campaigners against water charges and austerity.

“As well as these jailings we equally condemn the dawn raids on citizens in Tallaght.

“What we are now witnessing is an effort by the political establishment in this country to put the movement against water charges and austerity in general off the streets.

“The corrupt politicians, bankers and developers who destroyed the Irish economy have not spent a day in jail. But Irish citizens who take a stand against austerity are locked up.

“Our message is very clear – this Government will not succeed in putting people off the streets, it will not succeed in forcing unwanted mater meters on communities and it will not succeed in imposing the double taxation of water charges.

“Today we say release the prisoners, stop the metering and scrap the charges. Scrap this austerity regime, vote this toxic Government out of office and claim this country back for our people.”

In Castlebar, protestors from areas including Dublin, Galway, Leitrim and Sligo demonstrated outside the constituency office of the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny and afterwards close to the heavily guarded venue where the Fine Gael national conference is being held over the weekend.

This evening tensions are rising after it was confirmed a number of the jailed protesters have gone on hunger strike. Derek Byrne has said he and other protesters are refusing food.

In a statement issued on his behalf, Mr. Byrne said he and other protestors were moved from Montjoy to Wheatfield prison in Clondalkin where they have been confined to a cell for the last three days “on complete lock down.

“If we are not moved back to Mountjoy Training Unit as we were told we would be on Monday morning we will be taking it further and refusing fluids until we are moved back,” the statement adds.