Irish Water Protests: The View From The Front Line

Being somewhat of a connoisseur of anxiety I was most unpleasantly surprised to discover an entirely new incredibly powerful existential terror. When just the other week all accepted forms of authority communicated that me and my community were engaged in a base,illegitimate protest which was impeding the civil right of workers to a fair days pay. I had spent a week watching my community be overrun by a Garda occupation in an absurd response to handfuls of mothers, grandmothers and fathers protesting an austerity measure which our community simply cannot shoulder. Seeing 20+ Garda just hanging around your street, in a community where my families experience would be fairly standard. We worked hard to move from social housing to private,my father had two full time jobs, my mother had one and four children, we all worked hard. There is huge pride in our community and in keeping our area nice, it is ours after all.
This narrative from the media and government that these were tax-dodging free loaders hoping to squeeze the middle a bit more in order to steal their water is a long way from the truth. This is a community where we all experienced the breakdown of society during the 80’s and early 90’s we experienced a police force which saw us as subhuman and a larger society which wanted to keep us as isolated as possible. What the weeks leading up to the Water Protest in town represented was a return to those days, families in Northside shopping centre had regained that 80’s hungry desperate look some time ago, 6 years of austerity budgets is visible in children in our primary school. Our communities had been viciously attacked economically over the past 6 years, 2 suicides a day. Now we were being physically attacked by the Garda, attacked in the media who at one stage suggested using tear gas against the protesters. These are terrifying attitudes, how did they develop so quickly? Working class communities have taken the brunt of austerity and we know how close to breakdown things were, vilification in the media and by middle class society, who have failed miserably, they failed as journalists, academics as watchdogs of morality they have been an abject failure. There are reasons for this, the middle class is basically working class and in a tenuous position, with a newly rebranded working class as underclass serving as a warning to anyone questioning the staus quo. No wonder the middle are skittish, all I can say is it’s us now if it keeps going like this how long before the Garda are literally pushing through an austerity measure in your community?
Dublin City Council ruled in favour of the protesters that the Garda were using unreasonable force and dong untold damage to community relations. Remember the Garda wouldn’t even enter our area at one time, these things are still in peoples memory.
The Government, The Media, The Garda – three pillars of authority crumbled the week before the protest. We had moral authority, they had failed democracy. The Garda didn’t matter in the week coming up to the big protest but law and order did not break down rather an eviction was stopped and the Garda policing the water meter installations were literally lined up and given out to by the community. We did not fail democracy, it is up to us to save democracy.


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