Irish anti-water charge protesters keep pressure on government

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people marched in Dublin on Saturday in the latest mass protest against new water charges, keeping up the pressure on the government, which hopes Ireland's economic growth will quell the discontent. Ireland's economy surged by a post-crisis high of 4.8 percent last year and is forecast to be the fastest-growing in the European Union again this year, but many have been left frustrated by the uneven recovery nature of the recovery. One year before it seeks re-election, the government has begun directly charging households for water use, the final piece of a seven-year, 30 billion euro austerity drive, but the one that has elicited the largest backlash of any measure. Organizers said 80,000 protesters, many holding Greek flags in solidarity with the stricken euro zone member, marched in the capital. The national broadcaster, RTE, said the crowd at the fourth mass protest since October was 30,000 to 40,000 strong. "This government believes that the anti-water charges campaign is dying, that we are on our last legs. Well, today we have sent them a message," said Lynn Boylan, a member of the European Parliament for the opposition Sinn Fein party. "These families simply cannot take any more. The government is pushing people over the edge." (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Kevin Liffey)