COUNCILLORS from across the political divide are clamouring to take part in this afternoon’s anti-water charges march, with claims many are “jumping on the bandwagon”.
The organisers are predicting that thousands of people will take part in the march, which kicks off at City Hall at 2pm.
And in a week where bonuses and call-out charges at Irish Water have dominated the political agenda, members of Fianna Fail and Labour have vowed to take part in the action.
Council leader Kevin Sheahan will join Labour’s Joe Leddin, as well as members of Sinn Fein, and organisers, the Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) at the demonstration.
The cathaoirleach’s participation has been critcised by Fine Gael’s leader on the council, John Sheahan, who said the first citizen is “supposed to be independent”.
Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon, Fianna Fail, is set to take part - but like Cllr Joe Leddin he has insisted he will pay the charge, despite his opposition.
AAA councillor Cian Prendiville said: “It is a bit rich for then to come along and march. But that wont detract from the key message in the protest: scrap the water charges - We can’t pay, we won’t pay”.
But Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan said: “If people want to turn up to any rally, I think they are entitled to do it. Cian seems to think he owns the water issue.”
The northside councillor confirmed he will be at the demonstration - but said he would not be advising people on whether to pay or not.
He also pointed to a similar march organised for the city centre next weekend, by the Right2water coalition.
The most high-profile politician who is marching is council leader Kevin Sheahan of Fianna Fail.
He said he is marching “to protest against the behaviour of Irish Water and the charges applicable to water, plus all other related charges, that he considers to be excessive, unfair and, at this time, far too harsh and severe on the general public.”
Cllr Sheahan also called for Irish Water to be “disbanded”.
But Fine Gael’s John Sheahan said: “For the Cathaoirleach, who is supposed to be independent, to call for the scrapping of it is jumping on the political bandwagon. Is he taking everybody’s view on board? From speaking to the people I know, if they get good water, they don’t mind paying for it.”
Fianna Fail Deputy Willie O’Dea, who railed against Irish Water in the Dail on Tuesday night, said he is considering taking part.
His party colleague, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon has encouraged grass-roots members of Fianna Fail to march alongside him at a party meeting on Monday.
At the same time as the demonstration against water charges in Limerick City, a similar march is to take place in Charleville.
It kicks off at 2pm at the Remembrance Garden on the Limerick Road.