Port protest about more than just water charges

Many of the Portarlington protestors who braved the bitter cold last Saturday, had their own personal reasons for joining the protest.

Many of the Portarlington protestors who braved the bitter cold last Saturday, had their own personal reasons for joining the protest.

The Oakley sisters from Portarlington joked that their father had told them to come to the protest march or they wouldn’t be allowed to have a shower at home.

“We come from a house of seven, so the price of the water for our house is going to be a lot,” Laura Oakley said.

“It’s very hard for some families as it is, without adding another bill on top of that,” Laura added.

While Maggie Oakley said she would have no choice but to live at home while in College with all the different taxes and charges. Laura and Maggie were also joined by their sister Laura on the protest.

PJ Murphy said the water charges was the final straw for him.

“It’s one tax after another. Charging for the water is very unfair and then it’s been set up so badly, it’s cost thousands and millions just to set up,” he said.

When asked if he thought people power could change the governement’s mind, PJ said he could seen them doing a u-turn.

“Without a doubt I can see them going back on this,” he said.

While Martin Orange, Portarlington said the bills would remain unpaid.

“The media, especially RTÉ have dampened this out. There has been no equality, but the bills won’t be paid,” he said.

Laura Curtin had travelled with her mother Joan and their friends Mary Flanagan and Mary Burke from Rathangan to join the protest.

She said it was about more than just water.

“It’s bigger than just the water charges. This is about austerity. These water charges affects middle and low income people more.

“I also have a problem with them privatising water, which is a basic human right.

“If we don’t make a stand on this now, we will fall for anything. After the Universal Social Charge, this was just one step too far,” Laura said.

Two Portarlington ladies, who decilined to give their names, said having a voice was very important.

“Years ago we had to drag it from the rivers and the wells back to houses, now we have it on tap and they want us to pay for it.

“Next they will be putting the price up. It has to stop at this.”

“Our voice is very important. Power to the people,” the Port ladies began chanting.

“We got drownded the last day, it’s freezing cold today but that wouldn’t stop us,” one lady added.

Martin Reynolds also felt the water charges was a step too far.

“It’s been badly organised from the start. It’s hard enough to get by each week. People are under enough pressure, without this,” he said.

“It’s a typical political move, another charge on top of people who can’t afford it. The TD’s are not taking a pay cut,” Austin Grehan said.

“Labour used to be a party for the people, but they are gone as a party now.”

He continued: “Over 700,000 people have failed to register and a lot of people who did sent the registration packs back have put down names such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. People aren’t going to pay.

“We are fighting for the underdog and we are not going to give in,” he said.