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'Fair warning' to politicians as water charge row heats up

Published 22/04/2016

Campaigners against water charges say politicians will be 'held to account' if they go back on election pledges
Campaigners against water charges say politicians will be 'held to account' if they go back on election pledges

The anti-water charge movement has warned politicians they will be held to account if they renege on election promises on the utility.

With the issue central to negotiations on a new government, 39 TDs signed their names to support abolition of the charges and call for a referendum on public ownership of supplies.

And the Right2Water trade unions said it is vital that politicians live up to commitments given during the election campaign.

Brendan Ogle, campaign spokesman, said: "We are giving all politicians fair warning on this one. The previous government lost 50% of their seats in the election a number of weeks ago, and much of that was down to their introduction of water charges."

Mr Ogle said the same fate awaits any other party that ignores the will of the people and ploughs ahead with water charges.

A motion on water has been signed by 39 TDs, including Sinn Fein, the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit group, Independents4Change, the Social Democrats and a number of other Independents.

It is expected to be discussed in the Dail in the coming weeks.

Right2Water said there are at least 97 TDs who campaigned for the abolition of water charges in the election but Fianna Fail's position was to abolish Irish Water as a company and postpone charges for five years if it got into power.

Richard Boyd Barrett, of the AAA/PBP group, said the Dail has clear mandate to abolish water charges.

"The abolition of water charges is a simple question of democracy," he said.

"A majority of TDs elected to the new Dail gave clear election pledges to abolish water charges. It would be a betrayal of the democratic mandate for FF or anyone else to do anything other than vote now to abolish water charges."

Mr Boyd Barrett said the question of water charges should be taken out of the government negotiations and put to the Dail.

The Social Democrats also support the motion and Catherine Murphy said it was a cumulative effect of austerity.

"Irish Water is shorthand for the cumulative burdens that have been placed on households and left them feeling pauperised. Nothing short of abolition of Irish Water will be acceptable," she said.

Paul Murphy TD said the negotiations on a new government suggested a "dodgy deal" was being cooked up behind closed doors.

"Irish Water is suppressing the latest payment figures and FF and FG have colluded to prevent any discussion in the Dail," he said.

"People will have to take action themselves to force the change that was voted for, through a major mobilisation and, above all, through re-enforced mass non-payment".

Meanwhile negotiators in Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are widely believed to be close to compromise with a deal which would allow for a Fine Gael minority government predicted for some time over the weekend.

That could clear the path to a vote for a Taoiseach within days and one outcome being Fianna Fail abstaining from the vote to give Enda Kenny a clear run to a second term in office.

Right2Water, which has held seven high profile demonstrations, says it will be watching the outcome of the discussions between the parties and vowed to hold politicians to account if water charges remain.

David Gibney, Right2Water spokesman, said: " The end goal of this policy - which is centred on the installation of water meters - is the privatisation of our water services and the vultures are circling.

"Without the metering, there can be no profits to be made from the industry and that's why Fine Gael are insisting that water metering continues."

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