© 2018 This paper offers a reading of anti-austerity protests in the Irish Republic, placing under scrutiny in particular the origins, meaning, and implications of the country's water wars. It notes the proclivity of some post-crash anti-austerity populisms to fall prey to a politics of retrenchment and exclusion and even to degenerate into nationalist spasms or what Jean Paul Sartre would term fraternity terrorisms. It contributes conceptual novelty to existing human geographical scholarship on protest movements by convening Jean Paul Sartre and Judith Butler in conversation; registering therein the political potential of the fused group, performing popular sovereignty through public assembly. What makes the Irish case fascinating and worthy of scrutiny is the fact that protest never ossified and totalised into an oppressive or regressive form of political populism. Our central argument is that Ireland's water protest movement was effective because it was constituted from outside mainstream politics; from molecular and atomised struggles which scaled and agglomerated into large public assemblies which, whilst ultimately inchoate and indeterminate, signified that popular sovereignty had usurped the centre-right representative regime and challenged the latter's right to custody over democracy.