DUBLIN, Ireland, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- A demonstration against imposition of water charges drew 30,000 to 40,000 people to downtown Dublin, Ireland, Wednesday, bringing the city to a standstill.
Evening commuters were delayed by the protest, which centered on government buildings in the Irish capital. Bridges were blocked and city roads were blockaded by demonstrators, who oppose Ireland's planned introduction of a charge for household tap water.
The payment plan for water, which has been free, is part of an austerity campaign demanded by creditors after a 2010 bailout of the country. Although Ireland has emerged from its financial crisis, with a growing economy and a lower rate of unemployment, the water charge issue remains a fractious issue.
Stones, coins and plastic bottles were thrown Wednesday as police clashed with demonstrators near the Dail Eireann, the lower legislature of the Irish parliament. Two people were arrested and one police officer was injured.
Although political leaders appeared on television and radio to remind demonstrators the water charges had been revised and lowered, Mary Lou McDonald, deputy leader of the Sinn Fein party, which opposes the charges, told the crowd at the protest, "They thought that by giving minor concessions that the people of this country would be bought off. They were wrong."