The estimate of protestors who braved heavy downpours on the streets of Galway last Saturday to voice their disquiet at water charges ranged from 2,500 to 10,000.
“A carnival of resistance,” is how Dette McLoughlin of the organisers Right2Water Galway described the atmosphere at the rally which featured Mrs Brown, poetry readings and a humorous song to Enda Kenny, courtesy of community actor Riona Hughes.
The protest kicked off at the Spanish Arch at 1pm where a ‘barbecue’ of the Irish Water application packs took place. Initially the group marching through the town numbered in the region of 1,500 but according to the organisers grew to an estimated 4,000 as it marched through the streets, where it was joined by shoppers and bystanders.
By the time it reached Eyre Square, organisers claimed up to 10,000 had gathered, with groups from across Connemara and beyond, though other estimates placed the crowd at considerably less than that. It was one of 100 throughout the country, with as many as 100,000 said to have taken part nationally.
The rain did keep many at bay, including one man who paid for the leading banner in memory of his mother who died aged 100 a fortnight ago.
“It was certainly the biggest protest in recent years, the weather was unfortunate as many elderly and wheelchair-bound people had to send their apologies which was a real shame,” said Dette McLoughlin.
“Our youngest protestor was six weeks old, which shows that this issue affects everyone from the cradle to the grave. They were there because they know this is wrong. There was a real sense of community spirit, some of the costumes, puppets and placards were so inventive.
“While it was fun to be there, there was a real resolute atmosphere and the message was really, really clear aimed at the Government – abolish water charges, dissolve Irish Water and don’t dare privatise our water.”
Ms McLoughlin was MC at the rally and speakers included Sean Byrne or the We Won’t Pay campaign, Suzanne Daly of Right2Water Galway, with poetry from Sarah Clancy, Anne Irwin and music from Queen Elvis.
The next national event planned in the campaign is outside the Dáil on December 10, with campaigners subsidising buses for those who wish to attend.
“We have to up the pressure, we can’t allow this to continue. In January the meters are going to be turned on. There is a real feeling out there we can win this campaign together and start reclaiming what we’ve lost over the last six years.”
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.
Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.
It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.
Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.
At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.
The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.
Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.
It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.
In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”
It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.
“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.
“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”
Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.
The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.