News Irish News

Sunday 24 March 2019

Mass revolt threat over water charges after household tax

Lyndsey Telford

FRESH threats of a mass revolt similar to the ongoing household charge boycott have been made over Government plans to charge people for water meters.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said the public will not stand for the charge - believed to be around €300 - on top of future water charges.

"People understand that these combined taxes will quickly go to €1,000 and beyond," said Mr Higgins.

"They simply cannot afford it. It's a further destruction of the potential in the economy, intensifying austerity and creating more economic problems.

"People are absolutely right to oppose it and the campaign will intensify."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed that householders would have to pay for water meters, but that the Government would cover the installation cost.

It is understood that could be funded from the national pension reserve fund.

No solid costs have yet been confirmed, but Mr Kenny said the Cabinet will discuss setting up an agency to oversee the plans.

"The Government will reflect tomorrow on how to set up an agency to deal with the Programme for Government commitment to having a single water agency to deal with high standards, fixing of all the leaks and as a consequence, to save the taxpayer exceptional amounts of money," said the Taoiseach.

But Dublin West TD Mr Higgins said the measures represented another step in Fine Gael and Labour's "disastrous austerity policy", which he described as identical to that of Fianna Fail and the Greens.

"There has been and there is an ongoing and massive boycott against the home tax," added Mr Higgins.

"The determination of ordinary people to resist these taxes would be further intensified as a result of the announcement that water meters and water charges are just around the corner."

Around a million homes will have to have water meters installed by the end of next year if the Government is to introduce water charges in time for 2014 - as agreed under the European Commission, IMF and European Central bailout deal.

Mr Higgins argued that rather than save water, the charges will pave the way for the privatisation of Ireland's water supply.

The Dublin West TD also condemned what he described as the heavy-handed approach of Gardai during a protest at the Labour Party national conference on Saturday.

He rejected claims that the protest at the conference at NUI Galway was violent.

Hundreds of anti-austerity protesters managed to break through Garda barricades at the campus and made their way to the entrance of the building where the conference was being held.

But Mr Higgins said the media ignored the 5,000-strong peaceful march through the city centre.

"I don't think there was any violence except pepper spray was used by the Gardai, which is to be deplored," said Mr Higgins.

"Unfortunately the media pictures are of a few hundred people with a little bit of pushing and stayed away from the thousands who marched in a very disciplined fashion."

A TV cameraman had to be treated by medics after getting pepper spray in the face, and one 13-year-old child claimed he had been threatened with the spray.

It is understood up to 5,000 people, including turf cutters, campaigners against the household and septic tank charge, and teachers protesting against school cuts, took part in a march from Eyre Square to the university grounds.

Press Association

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News