Fine Gael mayor resigns from party over water charges controversy
The Mayor of Drogheda, Kevin Callan, has resigned from Fine Gael in protest at the government’s handling of the controversy with water charges.
Mr Callan said what is proposed is “a bridge too far,” and “I think people who are involved in putting this together now need to consider their position.”
He said he includes former government Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd, who helped to establish Irish Water, in that call to consider his position.
“I think Fergus O’Dowd was central in this, I think he was the person who was there at the time who could have made a difference and he didn’t make that difference. Now he has called for others to resign, I think he needs to consider his own position,” Cllr Callan said last night.
Cllr Callan tendered his resignation to general secretary of Fine Gael, Tom Curran, today and said he had been contemplating resigning since before the budget.
He made his decision to leave the party and become an independent member of Louth county council, 24 hours after nearly 8,000 people took to the streets of Drogheda, which is the largest provincial town, to express their anger at water charges.
“This project that is Irish Water is toxic politically speaking,” he said.
“This whole debacle that is Irish Water has led me to the point of view that we are dealing with cronyism, we are dealing with allowances, we are dealing with all of this nonsense, bonuses, and people can’t do it.”
“Irish people have carried the burden to get us out of the recession and they can’t do it anymore. The question will be asked where do you find the money, but that is not the question, the question is how can you take money from people who do not have it?”
He said people who took part in the right2water march on Saturday were people who are not activists and who would not normally take part in such events.
The promise of an allowance for some households will, he said mean, “other people will have to pay more and they are the people who have been carrying through on all of this so far.”
Cllr Callan, who is a barrister, was on the national executive of Young Fine Gael and said that when he told his fellow councillors in Louth of his decision that they were very upset, as he is.
He said he told Fine Gael of his “deep dissatisfaction at the manner in which the government have dealt with the issue of water charges and the provision of water services by Irish Water. I have done this to lodge my protest as a public representative to the way this entire matter has been handled.”
He said that everyone who has been involved in putting Irish Water together needs to “look at their position. When this came through the legislative process, people were responsible for that, the same people are now calling for people to resign and to leave their position in Irish Water. I think people who are involved in putting this together now need to consider their position.”
Asked was he referring to the chief executive, or the board of Irish Water, or to deputy O’Dowd, Cllr Callan said, “I think it is across the board, I think when you look at the media coverage of this, you look at people appointed to the board, you look at the chief executive, you also look at the elected representatives in the government who were involved, it goes across everybody and I think rather than saying a certain person should resign, I think we need across the board, this has to be totally and utterly restructured. The people who were involved in setting it up I don’t think are fit for purpose.”
When asked about deputy O’Dowd Cllr Callan said, “I think Fergus O’Dowd was central in this, I think he was the person who was there at the time who could have made a difference and he didn’t make that difference. Now he has called for others to resign, I think he needs to consider his own position.”
Cllr Callan denied he was politically motivated in taking this stand saying he had just been re-elected for a 5 year term. He said local elected representatives around the country are as furious as he is at the way the issue has been handled.