Five anti-water charge protesters have been jailed for contempt of court in Ireland
Irish protesters against the water charges
, following a crackdown by the Garda (police) and the state against any effective protest against the hated water charges
Since Dublin's Fine Gael/Labour Party government imposed water charges
as part of the multi-billion-euro bailout programme
concluded with the International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank in 2010, there has been widespread opposition from working people who correctly see the charge as yet another measure
to make them pay for the economic crisis and the collapse of the banks.
On February 19 the High Court imposed a sentence of 28 days on three anti-water charge protesters for failing to maintain a 20-metre distance from water meters
when they were being installed in housing estates. Two other protesters, who have since been refusing food (Derek Byrne from Donaghemede and Paul Moore from Kilbarrack), were jailed for 56 days.
The frustration and anger of many local communities has resulted in numerous water meter installations being blocked by residents, who have physically obstructed work being carried out by contract firms on behalf of Irish Water. Irish Water was the body set up by the government to collect the water charges from the population.
Following the arrests, more than 10,000 people, led by the families of the jailed anti-water charge protesters, marched to Mountjoy jail in Dublin calling for the release of the protesters.
The jailing of the protesters followed a general crackdown by the Garda and the courts on the right to protest. Twenty-three people were apprehended in dawn raids by the Garda recently and later released without charge. On February 9, Socialist Party TD (Teachta Dála—member of parliament) Paul Murphy, along with three other members of the Anti-Austerity Alliance, were arrested in the early hours of the morning and detained under section four of the Criminal Justice Act 1984. This act permits the detention of people for up to 24 hours for a wide range of offences against the state.