My friend and I got soaked and found ourselves in that paradox of being annoyed but not annoyed. For those who believe in symbolism and that sort of thing, nature, or the heavens if that is your gig, expressed its solidarity with the marchers of Drogheda, by peeling back the clouds above our heads in a clear statement that water is free and it does fall from the skies, contrary to what some fool of a Fine Gael politician recently told us on live television. Whatever it was, It could have rained a few umbrellas down while it was at it, but that would be miraculous rather than natural: things happen but miracles don’t. And it will be a miracle if the rich agree to pay more to alleviate the burden of poverty that so many strain under in Irish society.
The media estimated the crowd at around 8000 strong, the largest march in Drogheda in living memory. For a town its size, the turnout was massive and reflected the intensity of feeling. When we gathered for Gaza during the summer as Israeli war criminals pounded the besieged Mediterranean coastal strip, murdering children as they slept or played, we were content to get fifty on the streets.
|Section of the Drogheda March|
Today, right across the country, the Right2Water protests were about the eruption of people’s anger at yet another injustice being heaped upon them in order that the wealthy remain protected much more than the less well off from paying for a better society. We did not assemble in the rain to fast track the political careers of people who, if not of the mettle of Clare Daly - she told a Dublin protest today that ‘nothing but full abolition will suffice' - will as assuredly shaft the disadvantaged at the earliest opportunity while boldly praising their own courage for having shown such decisive leadership by ... implementing water charges.
This is an issue that has hurt like few others. The contemptuous audacity with which Irish Water has internalised the culture of Rip Off Ireland by awarding themselves a bonus for shafting society has literally infuriated people who openly defy government with their vow 'we won’t pay'.
Seeing Sinn Fein as another office chasing crew, I pondered on what its troubled leader might have said had he been in Drogheda today. His only honest response to those shouting would have been 'I will pay.' But honesty not being his forte, we can only speculate on what deception he would have devised for the occasion. Only yesterday he endorsed the Tory austerity draft budget in the North as an example of political leadership rather than the political betrayal it actually was. Imelda Munster of Sinn Fein did address the crowd. She was an ever present at the 'for Gaza' protests during the summer, which has to count for something. And today she did sign the petition demanding 'the abolition of Irish Water as a private company', which runs counter to the policy of her party. Yet, it is hard to escape the sense that the party will abolish Imelda before it will abolish Irish Water.
Wet but far from watery, we returned to our homes, determined that being screwed by Irish Water will not be considered water under the bridge.