Water charge trials reveal state’s desperation
By Oisín McKeown
The Southern state has continued in its desperate attempt to halt the successful anti-water charges movement, bringing to court 34 protesters. Twenty three face charges for taking part in a peaceful protest which saw Deputy Prime Minister Joan Burton held in her car for two
hours in Jobstown in November 2014. This includes Socialist Party member and Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) Member of Parliament Paul Murphy and 2 AAA councillors. Some of those facing trial are juveniles. The trumped up charges range from criminal damage to violent disorder and false imprisonment, which can carry a lengthy custodial sentence.
This is a cynical attempt by the state to intimidate and break activists, particularly the AAA who throughout the campaign have been central to building a boycott of the water charges. 52% of householders are currently refusing to pay. The government are running scared. Their austerity agenda, which is benefitting the rich at the expense of everyone else, is now under threat as the working class have had enough. Working class people have been politicised by the movement, realising the nature of the state and they continue to organise within their communities to defeat the water charges, they now have the belief this is possible.
The charges being brought against the protesters shows just how far the state will go to protect its interests. It has exposed itself undemocratic nature. These cases are a challenge to the right to protest. Should Paul Murphy – elected on a platform of fighting water charges and building non-payment – be convicted, he could lose his seat and be barred from public office for life. Burton will give evidence against the Jobstown protesters and this will be an opportunity to put her and the government on trial for their attacks on the Irish working class through their austerity measures.