The latest anti-water protest organised by Nenagh & District Against Unjust Water Charges attracted just a trickle of demonstrators.
The organisers claimed that around 400 took part in the march from Nenagh railway station to Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly’s office in Summerhill and back to Banba Square for a rally. Independent observers put the figure at less than 200. It had been hoped that the protest would be well supported nationally, but only a handful turned up from Tipperary, Dublin, Kerry, Cork, Limerick and Waterford.
In what was a noisy but well organised peaceful march, the protesters shouted anti-Government slogans as they left the station.
The protest paused briefly at FG Deputy Noel Coonan’s office on Pearse Street before heading to Summerhill where they were greeted by a banner outside Minister Kelly’s office welcoming them to Nenagh and asking that they support the hard working businesses and shops in the town.
After a symbolic burning of water bills, they congregated on Banba Square where local councillor and general election candidate Seamus Morris, in what was a general election rallying cry, cited the IRA hunger strikers of the 1980s as having a direct link to the Right2Water campaign.
“We haven’t gone away, you know. The hunger strikers took on the establishment and destroyed the SLDP. They died and refused to allow the establishment to criminalise them,” he said, urging that they do the same with the current establishment, including the permanent civil service, who, he said, were “the real people I’ll be taking on. We have to smash the elite serving civil servants piece by piece.”
In a wide ranging speech, he attacked Garda bosses for “forcing” ordinary gardai to take on the water protesters while at the same time Tipperary was “under siege” from “real criminals” who had attacked and burgled every premises in Littleton since Christmas.
Cllr Morris reserved his main focus of attack for Minister Kelly, saying to cheers that he had the “honour to kick Alan Kelly around Tipperary”.
The SF councillor also claimed that the Minister was in the media weekly revealing all the money he was getting for Tipperary, but in reality road funding had been cut and social welfare offices, post offices and Garda stations were being closed.
He also attacked Deputy Michael Lowry, who, he said, the people of Tipperary will probably vote for again in “huge numbers”.