Tens Of Thousands In Dublin Water Protest

Tens of thousands of people have taken part in protests in Dublin against plans to bring in water charges.

The new tax is the latest austerity measure imposed in Ireland since the country's economic crash six years ago.

Protesters from all over the country braved bitterly cold weather and forecasts of high winds to take part in a day of demonstration outside the Irish parliament building, Leinster House.

Holding banners reading "Resist Revolt, No To Water Charges!" and "Scrap Fraud Water Charges", the crowd chanted: "No way, we won't pay."

Organiser Right2Water , a group consisting of trade unions and left-leaning political parties, said the figures numbered up to 100,000 at one stage, while police said the number of people there was "in excess of 30,000".

Although two people were arrested after missiles were fired at the police at one stage during skirmishes at a barrier sealing off a number of streets around parliament, the demonstration was generally peaceful and good-natured.

Musicians, singers, activists and politicians took part in the protest, entertaining and addressing the rally from a main stage, with Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Glen Hansard among them.

"I think there's something happening in the world, and I feel this is our version of it," he said.

"The water charge is the straw that's breaking our backs - people are essentially very dissatisfied with how we are being governed."

Hansard added: "I'm not political, but the Irish nation has now been forced to be and to come out on the streets.

"I think there is a general sense of anger, a seething dissatisfaction and I'm just like anyone else."

Hansard, who won an Academy Award for his song Falling Slowly that soundtracked the film Once, took to the stage with musician Damien Dempsey.

"You can see the rebellion in people's eyes - you can see the spirit coming back into the Irish people," Dempsey said.

Originally, the Government had signalled the water levy would be up to €600 (£474) a year for some families.

But mounting dissent and increasingly rowdy protests targeting prime minister Enda Kenny and senior ministers during public events forced a U-turn.

Householders will now be liable for charges of €60 (£47) for single adult homes and €160 (£126) for all other homes, a flat rate set for four years.

Critics claim it is a tax too far, but the government says the money needs to be raised to update Ireland's chronically and historically under-invested public water system.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams described the turnout as "real democracy".

"Nobody ever gave anybody rights," he said. "You have to take your rights. Stay on the streets until the government become the servants of the people."

Right2Water is already planning to boycott the bills when they are sent out next spring.