Monday 5 December 2016

Protesters get under orders to halt water 'Trojan horse'

Published 01/12/2016 | 02:30

Anti-Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit TDS (l-r) Gino Kenny, Paul Murphy, Brid Smith, Mick Barry and Richard Boyd-Barrett meet the media outside Leinster House to respond to the Expert Commission on Water Charges report. Photo: Tom Burke
Anti-Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit TDS (l-r) Gino Kenny, Paul Murphy, Brid Smith, Mick Barry and Richard Boyd-Barrett meet the media outside Leinster House to respond to the Expert Commission on Water Charges report. Photo: Tom Burke

Protesters plan to organise a series of marches from February ahead of a Dáil vote on the future of water charges.

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TDs who have been to the forefront of protests since the introduction of charges say they intend to mobilise again, despite the Expert Commission recommending that the majority of households will pay nothing.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney has indicated his party can live with the new regime on the basis that charges will still apply for excessive usage. However, the party is split on how to deal with the issue of refunds. Photo: Tom Burke
Housing Minister Simon Coveney has indicated his party can live with the new regime on the basis that charges will still apply for excessive usage. However, the party is split on how to deal with the issue of refunds. Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen. The party has repeatedly flip flopped on water but is pleased with the expert commission’s report. They believe the fact the majority of households will pay nothing allows them to claim that charges have effectively been abolished. Photo: Tom Burke
Sinn Fein Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD. Gerry Adams’s party is arguing that the report does not go far enough. They still insist that all household water charges should be abolished. They are also claiming that the new regime proposed shows that Ireland is not being forced to impose water charges under EU law. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin. The Labour Party was part of the Government that introduced water charges and so is not taking a hard line on the abolition of charges. However, they are demanding refunds if charges are ended and has called for a referendum to remove any potential for Irish Water to be privatised. Photo: Tom Burke
Paul Murphy, AAA-PBP. The Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit TDs are already planning a fresh wave of protests against charges. They believe that the regime proposed by the commission is a ‘Trojan horse’ that could allow water charges to be reintroduced in the future. Photo: Tom Burke
Eamon Ryan,TD the Green Party leader. The Green Party says the measures outlined in their report are “sensible and fair”. Their own policy on water is “aligned closely” with what has been proposed. Photo: Tom Burke
The Social Democrats have focused on the section of the report that deals with metering. They say it’s not clear whether any sound economic case exists for the continuation of metering. Catherine Murphy suggested that water meters have the potential to be a financial waste. Photo: Tom Burke

Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith said that the political pillar of the Right To Water movement is already preparing for a new campaign to stop what she called a "Trojan horse to bring water charges back".

"There will be serious moves to organise big demonstrations in the new year, probably in February. The committee is due to report back around March so we'll be mobilising before that," she said.

The Dublin South Central TD said a protest march in September had attracted 40,000 even though they hadn't put huge efforts into promoting it. "It was quite astonishing. I think that'll happen again," she said.

Richard Boyd Barrett noted that the commission found Ireland "does not have a problem of excessive household usage".

"In fact, we use 20pc less water per household than Britain does, which has had charges and meters for many years.

"There is therefore no excuse or justification on the basis of water conservation for water charges," he said.

The deputy argued that if the Government was serious about conservation, they would introduce incentives for people who install water-saving devices.

"The Government is spoofing when it argues that it wants water conservation. It actually wants to impose a regressive and unfair tax on householders and the people will not be conned."

Dublin South West TD Paul Murphy said the report was a "fudge to allow Fine Gael to claim water charges are still in place and for Fianna Fáil to say that water charges are gone".

Irish Independent

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