Irish Republican News · August 29, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Water charge protestors ‘not going away’
Water charge protestors ‘not going away’

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Tens of thousands have gathered at an anti-water charge rally today in Dublin. The march began at 2pm under the banner “We’re not going away, you know!”

Demonstrators assembled at Connolly Station and Heuston Station and then proceed from there to O’Connell Street.

Unite official and Right2Water coordinator Brendan Ogle said that the march was a family affair, and he hoped for a peaceful conclusion.

We want to voice our opposition to Irish Water and the unfairness of the way it is structured,” he said.

This is the fifth demonstration Right2Water has organised. Approximately 500,000 people have attended their protests to date.

The campaign has also been given a boost after the TEEU became the sixth trade union to join the movement. The Technical Engineering and Electrical Union, which is the country’s largest craft union, is calling on the government to abolish water charges with immediate effect.

The protests have already had some effect: following a demonstration last October, the government announced revised water charges, saying that all water bills would be capped until January 2019 and that each household could claim a water conservation grant of 100 euro per year if they responded to payment requests.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has called for the largest possible turnout to demand an end to water charges and the abolition of Irish Water.

“The Fine Gael/Labour Government’s water policy has been an unmitigated disaster from the outset,” he said

  • “The provision of water is a human right and a key public asset.”

    He said the domestic water charges, originally proposed by Fianna Fail, represented an unfair form of double taxation on ordinary householders “who have borne the brunt of the economic crash in recent years”.

    “Irish Water has been dogged by controversy, cronyism and the squandering of public money since its inception. It is a toxic brand.

    “Whether they simply cannot pay or refuse to pay, the reality is that the majority of households have not signed up to Irish Water. It’s going nowhere.”

    Speaking at the Right2Water press conference, Sinn Fein spokesperson on Finance, Pearse Doherty TD, said the government had been desperately trying to deflect from the issue of water taxation.

    “The government have failed and failed again. Irish Water has been a disaster from the outset. It is time that we galvanise all those who are fed up of the absolute black-hole waste of resources and ask the government en masse to scrap these unfair charges once and for all.”

    He said in government, Sinn Fein would abolish the water charges, retain water services in public ownership and establish a new model of governance with democratic control, accountability and transparency.

    “Water is a key public asset and it is also a human right and our water services must be organised with the greatest efficiency for the benefit of all our citizens.”

    PENALTIES

    But controversial Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has claimed that the fees will never be abolished.

    “No matter who is in government after the next election none of the parties will abolish Irish Water. If you believe they will you’re mistaken,” he declared.

    “The parties who say they will immediately abolish Irish Water and it will be the first thing on their agenda are being completely disingenuous. Irish Water is here to stay.”

    In a change of heart, the Labour politician insisted the 100 euro “conservation grant” -- dubbed a “voter bribe” by the opposition -- would now only be given to people who pay their water bills. And he warned that those trying to avoid paying will have to pay more in the long run, through penalty fees and fines.

    He said there was no escape and legislation being brought forward by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will ensure people have to pay up.

    Sinn Fein’s Aenghus O Snodaigh said Kelly’s declaration that “one way or another everyone will pay” was an attempt to intimidate vulnerable people into paying for the government’s failed project “with utter disregard for people’s ability to pay.

    “Labour are speaking out of both sides of their mouth, claiming to give with one hand whilst waving a clenched fist, in the form of threats of penalties, with the other.”

    According to the opinion polls, at the moment Labour faces losing up to 30 seats in what is predicted to be a virtual wipe-out election for the party, with little chance of holding on to a seat outside the capital. Opinion poll analysis shows Fine Gael also faces losing 25 to 30 seats.

    Fine Gael has reportedly lost faith in a Labour Party as a possible coalition partner and has accepted that a deal with Fianna Fail is its best hope of a return to power.

    Fine Gael TDs this week said their preference would be to return to power with Labour but admitted there is little chance of that happening, based on the poll ratings. Dublin Bay South TD Eoghan Murphy said his preference would be to return to power with Labour “but the polls at the moment make that impossible”.

  • © 2015 Irish Republican News