Greeks ‘inspired’ by Irish anti-water charge campaign

Syriza member says ‘working class movement challenged narrative that everything is good’

Anti-water charge protestors during a demonstration in Dublin. A member of Greece’s Syriza party has said the Irish campaign was an inspiration. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

Anti-water charge protestors during a demonstration in Dublin. A member of Greece’s Syriza party has said the Irish campaign was an inspiration. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

 

The Irish anti-water charges campaign was “inspirational” to the people of Greece, as a “working class movement that challenged the narrative that everything is good”, a member of the country’s left-wing party Syriza has said.

Maria Karagianni, a member of Syriza’s youth wing, was addressing an anti-water charges rally in Edenmore, Dublin.

She said mainstream media would always seek to undermine anti-austerity movements and that the anti-water charges campaign must “stay strong” in the face of efforts to undermine it.

The meeting, hosted by the Communities Against Water Charges campaign, was attended by about 100 residents, carrying banners with such slogans as ‘Finglas Says No’; ‘ Kilmore Says No’, ‘Ayrfield and Rathvale Say No’.

Ms Karagianni has been involved in a long-running campaign in Greece against the privatisation of state-owned water services. The three-year campaign culminated in a referendum last May which resulted in the Greek government halting plans to sell state water services.

“What we have learnt from the campaign is, never give up, it can be done, don’t give in to those who will try to discourage you, build as many alliances as you can,” said Ms Karagianni.

“Then what happens is the mainstream media will try to attack the movement. The mainstream media is generally controlled by the elites in society who fear genuine grassroots movements of working people. They will always try to undermine movements resisting austerity. In Greece, you could have a rally with 10,000 people and it will not be in the news.”

She said when mainstream media failed to cover the protests, people turned to social media and covered their protests themselves. “Social media has been very important,” she said.

The anti-water charges campaign was “inspirational” to the Greek people, she said.

“It is so impressive. It is a genuinely working class movement that challenged the narrative that everything is good in Ireland and everyone is happy.”

Ntina Tzouvala, also from the Syriza youth wing, said the media set out to undermine Syriza by attacking some elements of the protest movement. The media expected Syriza to control the whole anti-austerity movement, she said.

“You can never control a genuinely grassroots movement. In Greece there was always someone on TV asking a member of Syriza to condemn the way some people had protested. The story became about the egg that got thrown and not about the protest,” she said.

The two Syriza members are in Ireland at the invitation of the Greece Solidarity Campaign. Both women spoke of the importance of anti-austerity movements from different countries working together.

“The Irish people and the Greek people face the same challenges and attacks from capitalism,” said Ms Karagianni.