A Beaten Docket

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From top: Irish Water bill; Brendan Ogle

But will the 32nd Dáil subvert its democratic mandate to keep Irish Water running?

Brendan Ogle writes:

When Right2Water exploded onto our streets on 11 October, 2014 as the umbrella campaign for the anti-water charges movement a promise was made.

Unusually in Irish public life this promise was kept.

The promise was that Right2Water would be around AT LEAST until the next election seeking the abolition of the regressive double water tax. We also promised that this would be the number one issue in the next election.

For a year and a half commentators and establishment politicians sneered at these claims and repeatedly told us that the campaign had dissipated.

After election 2016 nobody is sneering.

What seemed unlikely, or even impossible, has happened. Labour have been humiliated by their traditional voters and Alan Kelly has been humiliated by what remains of Labour.

Fine Gael have lost one third of their seats and the two large right wing  ‘Irish Tory’ parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, can’t even claim that they command the support of a majority in this divided state combined. Seismic change.

Irish Water has been rejected in the polls and, politically and financially, is a beaten docket with charges now suspended. Irish Water, and the privatisation agenda that it represents, has been beaten up, but it is not yet beaten.

Last week Fianna Fail failed to deliver on its electoral commitment to abolish the super quango when given the opportunity in a Dail vote.

Fianna Fail joined a long list of 59 TDs who either abstained on this vote or were unavailable. Even worse, however, is that the vote was carried by 60 TDs vs. 39 TDs and the 60 even included John Halligan and Finian McGrath as Independents.

So, for now, Irish Water continues to function on life support. It’s time to pull the plug.

The day before this vote I attended a very positive meeting of the three Right2Water pillars. This involves trade unions, political parties and independents, and also community activists, working together to seek abolition of Irish Water.

These three strands worked together since 2014 and delivered the largest (per capita) and most peaceful protest movement anywhere in the world today.

Our objectives are simple. We want Irish Water abolished and replaced with a single national water and sanitation board funded through progressive general taxation.

We also want public ownership of the public water supply protected in a new Article 28 Section 4:2:1 of our Constitution to read:

‘The Government shall be collectively responsible for the protection, management and maintenance of the public water system. The Government shall ensure in the public interest that this resource remains in public ownership and management.’

This will require a referendum and in the coming weeks a Bill sponsored by Joan Collins TD and signed by Sinn Féin, PBP, AAA and other Independents goes before the Dail proposing exactly that.

Since the beginning public debate of the Irish Water issue has been conducted as if a fiction were true. That fiction is that Irish Water, the meters and the billing system is not about privatisation.

All across the globe vulture funds and corporates are taking ownership of public water supplies and turning our human Right2Water into a right to profit for the 1%. They are turning that which we need to live into a commodity that they can turn off and deny to citizens at will.

Apart from ‘financial services’ nothing delivers bigger profit margins for these vultures than our life sustaining water.

From Bolivia to Berlin, and from Portugal to Portroe corporate interests have ensnared politicians to do their bidding and hand the people’s water over to them.

But the people have fought back and prevented this happening or even won water back through re-municipalisation as has happened in Bolivia, Berlin and Paris for example.

Water in Paris and Belin were both re-municipalised in 2014 following rising bills, lack of investment in new infrastructure and public pressure.

The Cochabamba water war took place in Bolivia’s third largest city in 1999 and 2000. A community coalition ‘Coordinadora in Defence of Water and Life’ won after public protests which saw one protestor killed. The privatisation was reversed.

Of course, on the rare occasion that the media have put this to them, politicians in Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens have rejected the argument that they are engaging in a privatisation quest.

And they have been allowed to issue bland denials of what is blindingly obvious without being held accountable.

That is now about to end. If privatisation is not the agenda behind Irish Water then this ‘Government’ can save itself no end of trouble by simply supporting Joan Collins’ bill when it goes before the Dail.

I personally believe that the expected failure of Fine Gael to support this bill, or further obfuscation by Fianna Fail or Shane Ross’s ‘Independents’ that prevents this vital bill from being passed, will be a subversion of the democratic mandate of the 32nd Dail that will require a response.

This Government is barely a Government at all and it is already hanging by a thread before it has even begun.

People power led to a massive change in the electoral shape of Ireland in the February election. I don’t believe for one minute that the necessary change is complete.

In fact I believe it has only just begun.

Brendan Ogle is Unite Trade Union and Right2Water Co-ordinator

133 thoughts on “A Beaten Docket

  1. Jake38

    Classic wedge issue tactic from the Trot playbook. Nice one, Commissar Brendan.

    “I personally believe that the expected failure of Fine Gael to support this bill, or further obfuscation by Fianna Fail or Shane Ross’s ‘Independents’ that prevents this vital bill from being passed, will be a subversion of the democratic mandate of the 32nd Dail that will require a response”.

    That sounds a little threatening. Phase 2 of the playbook swinging into action?

    1. ahjayzis

      Threatening protest at government obfuscation / the betrayal of election promises is an exercise in electoral accountability – not a revolution.

      Is it somehow subversive to expect people to do what they told you they would do?

      1. Stephen Fagan

        Jake38 Fianna Fail were elected on a mandate to abolish Irish Water. Nothing trot about it. And nothing trot about being against the privatization of our water supply.

        1. ahjayzis

          I realise it’s still early and maybe you haven’t had your coffee yet, so I won’t point out how you’ve failed utterly to understand the article or the political situation.

          FG are the minority – the majority have pledged to abolish charges, that argument won the election. It’s that majority that will have to have their feet held to the fire in order to deliver on their pledges. Specifically Fianna Fail and the independents FG recently purchased. Get it now?

          1. Steve

            Correct ahjaysis , but I wouldn’t say the water argument won the election. One of a couple.

            Odd then that the majority couldn’t form a government to permanently end water charges and put IW into the constitution. FF + SF + SDs + AAA easily had the numbers.

          2. DubLoony

            FF are not in government. they are propping up a shambolic one but FG is the main party in there for the moment.

          3. ahjayzis

            Come on, Dub. FF are in government. Martin’s making Taoiseach’s appointments for god’s sake. FG is more reliant on FF than they ever were on Labour, it’s a coalition in all but name.

          4. DubLoony

            Agreed ahjayzis, they are pulling strings but no taking any responsibility.
            Total farce.
            The anti water charge groups could have formed a government but didn’t.

          5. Jake38

            Those who forget history, or like yourself, ahjaysus, who probably never knew it in the first place, are condemned to repeat it.

  2. some old queen

    I think Right2Water are being somewhat disingenuous by citing Paris as an example because it is still metered and still billed by use. But, it really proves the point that public management is way more cost effective as the bills are lower and the profits are reinvested in the infrastructure.

    https://www.tni.org/en/article/paris-local-authorities-regain-control-water-management

    http://www.futurepolicy.org/food-and-water/remunicipalisation-of-water-services-paris/

  3. ALisonT

    It shows how out of touch the unions are if they are proud that water charges was the main issue during the election. Perhaps some day we could get around to the real issues.

      1. Stephen Fagan

        Well, that’s a load of bull.

        The Right2Water movement is a clear ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ scenario.

        Many sections of the Right2Water movement, having gotten involved in the fight against privatization of the water supply, are now mobilizing around issues such as housing, education, drug policy etc.

        The people who usually say ‘We have way more important issues’ are the people who are commenting on these sites, not uniting with movements of people power, but giving out about people who are doing so.

        Of course the unions are proud how Water has been the main issue, because it has actually mobilized the very people that the government don’t want to be mobilized.

        1. Rob_G

          Who was it that proposed to privatise the water supply (apart from SF briefly in N. Ireland); I must have missed that in the various manifestos.

          I thought that the IW was about charging people according to the amount of water that they use, much as we do for gas, electricity, petrol…

        2. Dara

          In fairness there was also a lot of effort put into demobilising people like myself, the working class following ya as you bang your drum? Cool, but operating autonomously? uh huh. Foot soldiers is what they wanted. Not everyone went along with that.
          It also reduces democracy back down to one person speaking for an entire movement.

          The social movement needs to reorganise, we were naive and handed over the keys to our communications networks.

          To reorganise now as a more inclusive movement, which includes the middle class, nobody really wants to keep going down this path of health care privatisation. That there is something everyone can get behind.
          Otherwise dive and rule is all too easy a game for the government to play, again.

          Having Paul Murphy scream ‘Class warfare!’ on the front page of Village doesn’t help at times like these.

  4. Clampers Outside!

    Fair play to all involved…. all who wanted an end to the road to privatisation of our water, both supporters of right2water and those who objected but were not supporters of any organisations.

    In the words of that FF campaign slogan… *with tongue firmly in cheek* …. A Lot More To Do ! …to get it over the line :)

  5. Sullery

    I don’t mind paying for a surfeit of water usage on conservation/having an adequately funded system grounds, but I’m 100% against privatisation. I don’t know why there are no groups advocating this position

    1. DubLoony

      Because its easy to create a group against something, much more difficult to agree on a proposed solution.

    2. Maria

      @Sullery I’m with you on that ! There are plenty more like us who have been on these water protests since the beginning. Some because they cannot afford another bill, some, like me, can but wont pay to a corrupt Quango like Irish Water, some who don’t (nor do I) want our water privatised and some who just say No to everything. The people movement is just that i.e. all about people but one thing we have in common is that we want to protect our water supplies. I will keep on protesting until some fairness comes into play. I may not live to see this but at least I’m trying.

    3. Noel T Martin

      The Communist Party of Ireland have since its formation have followed the line of James Connolly and the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation and other historic Irish figures and advocated that all of Ireland’s natural resources belong to the people – and the State should be nothing more than managers of those resources as directed by the Irish people and not by the business and banking elites.

      1. some old queen

        What is The Communist Party of Ireland’s view on the very successful same sex marriage of capitalism and socialism within what is now the second largest economy in the world called China?

        Just asking.

  6. Maria

    Water is a human right. He who controls water, controls life! Ask yourself why are World Banks and Pension Funds buying up water utilities? Water is the new oil! You might think that because you have a private well or because your bill is only a couple of hundred euro now you are safe but eventually these vultures will come for you! Another point is that meters in French households are in their house, not out on a public road where they cannot even be read. We may have lots of issues that seem more important to people at this time i.e. Health Services etc but one day the main bill for hospitals may be their water bill. Think about that! I wish that ALL the Unions would get on board and support this. Fianna Fail have let me down. As for John Halligan, Shane Ross and Finian Mc Grath – I hold them in the same contempt as I hold Michael Lowry, Alan Kelly and Redacted. Wake up people! The most corrupt Governments make the most Laws.

      1. Boj

        You seem to have read the first 5 words and jumped onto the keyboard…maybe take those 5 words out and read the rest of the post.

      2. Maria

        @Rob_G I agree with you but ask the farmers or milk producers about how their incomes have fallen since the big firms took over. We also can choose to eat less but we cannot drink less as our bodies are mainly water. However, thanks for your comment.

        1. Rob_G

          “We also can choose to eat less but we cannot drink less as our bodies are mainly water.”

          (this is reinforcing my initial impression that you might be unhinged)

      3. Noel T Martin

        Water is already paid for through various taxes. However Water should be free and the instalation and maintenance of the water infrastructure should be paid for through progressive taxation.

    1. dan

      Finian Mc Grath, the man who doesn’t;t care about cronyism once he can get his salary and expenses every month. €2,500 in expenses for March, when the Dail didn’t sit

      Mattie McGrath, €4,225 expenses in March
      Shane Ross, €2,445 expenses in March
      John Halligan, €4,195 expenses in March
      Danny Healy-Rae €4,475 expenses in March
      Michael Healy Rae €4,475 expenses in March

      Parasites

    2. Vote Rep #1

      -Another point is that meters in French households are in their house, not out on a public road where they cannot even be read.

      I don’t get this. They can be read by lifting up the thin plastic manhole or seemingly/allegedly remotely.

      That said, I can read my leccy and gas yet only every look at it when I am ringing in the reading. Do people regularly look at their meters?

      1. some old queen

        French meters were installed a long time ago and all new builds then had them by default. The cost of tracking through the mains into a house in Ireland would have been prohibitive, Also, they would have needed permission to go onto private property so a lot less would have been installed.

        1. Maria

          @same old queen Yes, I agree with that but if Irish Water had not tried to bully and bulldoze their way through this they could have put the meters in houses that allowed them and have a flat charge for houses which did not want them. Its the threats and the bullying that got our backs up. It all should have been handled better. Instead they, Irish Water, made it worse. That’s what having the wrong people in the wrong jobs for the wrong reasons get ye!

          1. some old queen

            Completely agree Maria. Even in England where even the infrastructure was sold off, metering is by choice. IW was an uncanny mix of arrogance, incompetence and cronyism. It was and is a consultancy feeding ground but just as bad, it had a habit of employing entire families.

            So much for equal opportunities, and employment law for that matter.

      2. Maria

        @Vote Rep #1 When I was figuring out how much I spent of my electricity/gas etc for example, my washing machine, I went to my meter took the count and after the machine cycle I took the count again. Now I know how many units it takes to do a wash. I, because I conserve water, would like to be able to do the same with my water meter. However, I don’t even know where my meter is!!! It is reported that some meters are registered with addresses but when the owners cut off their supply, their meter was still running but the neighbour had no water supply!!! I’d like to be able to check this out with my water meter. Thirdly, it has also been reported (widely) that the meters purchased are reconditioned meters from Germany. How long do you think these will last? Remember, that you are being charged for a NEW meter. And finally, yes, I do read my meters! and yes, I do conserve water and yes, I have no problem paying for it to a STATE company if my monies are invested in infrastructure and upgrading not Laughing Classes, Gyms, high salaries and bonuses for a corrupt Quango like Irish Water.

      1. Maria

        @Peter LOL I’ve realised that now. I thought that they had learnt their lesson but seemingly they are intent on doing things the same way, and expecting a different result. I, for one, will not vote for them in the next election.

        1. 15 cents

          dunno how people trusted them with a vote, merely one term after breaking the entire nation for us, our children, and their children, and their children .. if they can get back in with a few lies after that, theres no hope. they must be sittin in the Dail now thinkin “we can do whatever we want, and still get back in” .. so now, theyre doing just that .. theyre doing whatever they want

    3. ronsh20

      If we don’t want to privatise it then maybe we should set up a public utilty to manage water. We could call it Irish Water or something like that.

  7. DubLoony

    I’ve no problem with a constitutional protection being added.
    Water was not the only issue for many during the election – housing was a huge one, urban / rural imbalance, the recovery not being felt by so many people.

    The problem with water being paid for by progressive taxation is that there is no link between what is or not paid for and water use.

    But this isn’t about water, this is about using water as a political wedge as has been pointed out above.

    1. ahjayzis

      The problem with healthcare being paid for by progressive taxation is that there is no link between what is or not paid for and hospital use.

      The problem with primary education being paid for by progressive taxation is that there is no link between what is or not paid for and school use.

      The problem with policing being paid for by progressive taxation is that there is no link between what is or not paid for and justice system use.

      1. Rob_G

        As a matter of interest, would you prefer if gas, electricity, and petrol and diesel were paid for out of general taxation?

        1. ahjayzis

          Can you please direct me to evidence that Irish households consume vastly more water than others in Europe who have charges? What makes you think we’re overusing our sprinklers and refilling our pools more than necessary? I’ll have to find the chart again, but I remember we do far better than a lot of our neighbours, like France. If memory serves we use less than the Brits – which is odd since I pay £500 a year to Thames Water and don’t own a swimming pool.

          We apparently lose about 50% through leaks in the network – which would suggest we’re actually producing twice as much water as we actually need. If Ireland has a water problem it’s not the domestic user who’s fupped it up – it’s not the domestic user who hasn’t been paying all along.

        2. ollie

          Dubloony your comment is rubbish, Imposing a flat charge unrelated to usage encourages more use, not less.

          1. ahjayzis

            That’s an opinion piece.

            We lose 50% of our water in leaks.

            Of the remaining 50%, 74% is used in an industrial capacity.

            10% on agriculture.

            16% percent on municipal use.

            So 8% if the water produced is what’s at issue here. And that 8% of users are responsible for the renewal of the entire network with no regard to income or means.

            And you think you’re being progressive.

            http://www.unwater.org

          2. Steve

            Ahjaysis we produce about 1700 megalitres a day for water consumption. About half of this goes through leaks. Of the 850 megalitres left over 50% is consumed by households. Not 8%. Business consumes about 40%. Not 74%.

            Reducing leakage is not just about reducing production / cost. It’s also about giving yourself a capacity margin so in the event of drought/ mass incident (e.g Ballymore eustace has to shut off for a month) you have a buffer to keep supplying the populace.

        3. DubLoony

          ” it’s not the domestic user who hasn’t been paying all along.”

          Bingo! we haven’t been paying for water, serious under investment as a result.

          And you pay for water in another jurisdiction?!

          1. LW

            Dubloony you weapons grade dope, read that sentence you quoted again. And then explain to me how a flat charge encourages conservation.

          2. DubLoony

            I do not support a flat charge, not sure how you came to the conclusion that I do.
            And no need for the name calling.

            In order to conserve water, find leaks, ensure that sufficient free allocation is made available to everyone, we need water meters.

      2. Maria

        @ahjayzis Spot on! The problem is that there is no accountability anywhere for the use of public monies. i.e OUR money! Finegael have raided our pension reserves so when the time comes for OUR pensions there will be little or none left.

    2. bisted

      …it is astounding that labour still hold resolutely to this beaten docket even in the face of electoral meltdown…it is however, encouraging that they get a taste of betrayal from their political bedfellows in FG/FF.

      1. some old queen

        I suspect this is mainly because their cronies have good jobs within the place as the spanner Kelly was minister at the time.

    3. MoyestWithExcitement

      “But this isn’t about water,”

      No, it really is about water. Telling yourself otherwise is just a comfort blanket. It’s a way for you to tell yourself that it wasn’t your party’s fault they got decimated. That attitude will ensure you never recover. Water is about water. It is not about labour.

      1. DubLoony

        Ok,let talk about water.
        Lets talk about poo strewn beaches, e.coli leaching into ground water, and people on boil water notices for over a decade.
        Lets talk about local governments failing to deal with it ,the complete failure to tackle infrastructure for decades.
        Lets talk victorian clay pipes leaking, about old lead pipes.
        Lets talk 20% of the country flooding last winter & having no means to deal with it, of Dublin just about meeting its needs now.
        Lets talk population grwoth, housing need and 100,000 more toilets, showers, kitchens that will add to that need.
        Lets talk about the fact that we are barely meeting that need today.
        Lets talk about the 25billion needed to bring it all up to scratch.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          Let’s talk about how we’re losing 50% of our water through leaks and fixing them wo6ld more or less solve the problem but successive governments completely ignored it. Let’s talk about hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people seeing their income drop or disappear after the worst recession in the history of the state, seeing their rents rise, seeing wealthy bondholders get their money to cover gambling losses and then being told they were getting an extra bill for something that was free for as long as they could remember. Lets talk about how predictable their angry reaction to that new bill was.

          Or we could ignore all that and tell ourselves it was a SF led plot to get rid of Labour.

          1. Water Boy

            Why let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

            1. Water protest numbers collapsed steadily after charges were fixed
            2. Paris is as you say based on full cost recovery via metered charges
            3. Who would buy Irish Water losing €300m a year & needing €5bn investment?
            4. Water charges at 8% were far from the most important issue at election time

            Ogle has no purpose having departed ESB after threatening to switch the lights off, he should move to Paris

          2. DubLoony

            Yes, we have had worst recession ever. Started with FF being in power for 14 years.
            Labour got in after the melt down.

            FF abolished rates in ’77 and no investment in water since then.

            There are very serious issues with water that need to be dealt with.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            Not arguing there’s issues to deal with. I’m saying Irish Water was the wrong way to go about it and the angry backlash was inevitable. It was not a party political strategy. It was a natural human reaction to perceived unfairness.

          4. rugbylane

            There is a simple formula when the Corporate Powers That Be decide that they want to get their mits on a public utility:

            Step 1: Get the politicians in your pocket. Actually in this case they only need to get the Brussels-based Eurocrats onboard.

            Step 2: Make sure there is years of under investment in the targeted utility. So, for example in the UK, seeing as water already provatised/monetised, this means the Health Service. In Ireland it means water.

            Step 3: Tell everyone that monetisation/privatization of the service is the solution to the problem.

            Step 3: Privatise.

            Simples.

        2. ollie

          Flooding is outside irish water’s remit, so Dubloony your argument yet again is flawed.
          Also, we produce 60% more potable water than we use so your argument about supply is again flawed.
          Let’s talk about the 1 billion spent on administration and meter installation costs that haven’t saved a drop of water.
          Let’s talk about a CEO with a track record of failure.
          Let’s talk about over 100 Audi A6 cars purchased by the taxpayer for IW management
          Lets talk about hundreds of thousands spent on PR
          Let’s talk about the legality of issuing bills for a “service” that no-ne has contractually signed up for.
          Let’s talk about Denis O’Brien’s involvement in IW
          Lets talk about Declan Kelly
          Let’s talk about Alan Kelly’s political funding.
          Let’s talk about Teneo

        3. ahjayzis

          Let’s talk about effective corporation tax rates of 2%, let’s talk about 75% of water produced being used in industry and industry paying nowhere near 75% of the costs. Let’s talk about flat taxes being used for capital projects.

          1. some old queen

            Industry, indeed all commercial businesses, are billed by the LA’s. There is no standard rate as each LA sets their own. That is even more crazy.

            If government really wanted to create a cost effective single utility, why did they not just start by standardising commercial rates across the country? The whole thing from start to finish was mismanaged.

          2. Steve

            Yes very crazy. Some business water rates are double those of adjoining counties.
            Madness.

            Luckily the CER are seeking to harmonise the arrangements around business rates. This is going to take time.

            This might be of interest to ye:

            http://www.cer.ie/docs/000956/CER14368%20CER%20Response%20to%20Comments%20and%20CER%20Views%20on%20Interim%20and%20Enduring%20Non-Domestic%20Water%20and%20Wastewater%20Tariff%20Proposals.pdf

            Harmonising overnight wouldn’t have been fair on a lot of businesses and could have threatened job security of alms companies living on the edge. Pity the same logic wasn’t applied to households.

          3. some old queen

            @ Steve. A srt8 up question for you.

            Do you agree that the only way this water issue can be taken out of the political domain is to have a referendum?

        4. Maria

          @DubLoony and Lets talk about the lack of investment from FF and FG into all that ….. run it all down then privatise it all. Lets talk about that!

          1. DubLoony

            Where was there any proposal from any party to privatise?
            FF weren’t smart enough to even think of that, they just bought the election in ’77 by promising to abolish rates.

  8. Clampers Outside!

    Have right2water got a proposal for the ‘progressive taxation’ payment of our water, and will it be connected to usage?

    Everyone and anyone with a brain cell was against privatisation. I don’t think any group can really lay claim to the prevention of privatisation. Everyone who made any kind of stand, gets a clap for that.

    What right2water and all the other groups did achieve was the (nearly there) bringing down of Irish Water, but until the alternative funding of the system is something tangible, and the people get to view this proposed funding method, nothing yet has really been achieved, yet, as the system is still fupped init….
    Any link with info on right2water’s funding proposal, something with some worked out numbers in it, not just a broad statement, that would be nice… ?

    1. Rob_G

      Bingo.

      Wail against Irish Water (by no means perfect); no workable solution as to how to fund the water system and/or promote conservation other than allowing the PAYE worker to pick up the tab yet again.

  9. fluffybiscuits

    From my perspective its almost like a personality cult has grown up around Brendan Ogle , not that its a bad or a good thing.

    His facebook page is worth a read…covers some aspects others dont…

    1. Dara

      yeah..I think erhaps himself and Dave Gibney were thrust into the public spotlight with little or no training or preparation and no clue as to what it was they had on their hands.

      Unfortunately that leaves us in the position of the unions having to develop self awareness, if they manage that then there is huge potential. Nobody is happy anywhere on the social spectrum, apart from the outliers, we’re all just waking up from economic shock therapy.
      The middle class is just as unhappy with the number of sleeping bags, an apartheid health system soon to be privatised.
      Reducing it down to ‘communities’ allowed the movement to be split into easily controlled factions, really its bigger than the communities, a word which has been hashtagged to death by drones in Unite. What it really means is your family and friends. Which we all have.

      The workin’ class were rightly angry and we got to have our stomp about, now we gotta work on building an inclusive movement.

      Massive potential, if we can get the unions to work with people instead of trying to centralise and control everything. (mainly on facebook)

      We need a lil more imagination.

  10. Oliver Moran

    > “… the Greens have rejected the argument that they are engaging in a privatisation quest.”

    Eh … the Green Party were the first party to call for a referendum to keep water services in public ownership. First when in government in 2010 and then actively outside of government since at least 2012. For example: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/greens-call-for-referendum-to-block-irish-water-privatisation-1.1978547

    This call was repeated in the Green Party election manifesto: “On water, we propose: A referendum to enshrine both the right to water and the public ownership of water infrastructure into the constitution.”

    The 2011 statues of the European Greens (of which the Irish Green Party is a founding member) states that that the Greens: “Affirm that essentials of life, such as water, must remain publicly owned and controlled; and that culture, basic access to food, social and public health, education, and a free media are not ‘commodities’ to be subjected to international market agreements. … Consider that access to clean water for basic needs is a fundamental right and oppose the privatisation of water resources and infrastructure.”

    And the Green Party opposed the establishment of Irish Water by Fine Gael in 2011 because of the privatisation agenda: https://www.kildarestreet.com/debates/?id=2011-01-12.578.0

      1. Oliver Moran

        “Arriving late…” – you mean **before** everyone else? 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 … those are the years in the examples I’ve given. Long, long before R2W.

        It’s good there a head of steam behind it now but it’s vexing when the likes of Ogle get their facts mixed up and don’t recognise those with a common cause.

  11. Eoin

    Well said Brendan. I’m already looking forward to the next national protests, to remind the powers that be (for now) that we are still unhappy about Irish Water, unsecured bond holders, cronyism and the general incompetence and corruption of the political establishment.

    1. Harry Molloy

      Sorry to pick on this particular post but does anyone else really dislike the term “the powers that be”??

      It’s like assigning some sort of quasi mystical properties to something very ordinary. Maybe it makes them easier to oppose…

      1. Dara

        Easier to oppose ineffectually. After spending the guts of two years involved in the social movement while managing to maintain a degree of autonomy, which is harder than it sounds. I’m fairly well convinced that the opposition is controlled opposition they just don’t realise it.

        Everything is reduced to a hashtag campaign, black and white morality politics while offering zero insight into how power behaves and more importantly, how it protects itself.

        The internet made the shouty socialist irrelevant, these aren’t difficult things to understand, we can do it just fine ourselves, thanks lads. The writing on the wall is a backdrop to a million debates on laptops and smartphones. Sooner the caricatures cop on the better.

  12. Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh

    The election was about a lot more than water charges. Polls have shown that it was an issue for only 8% of voters. I gave my number one to a candidate from a party that’s anti-water charges even though I’m pro-water charges.

    So be careful with that mandate argument. The “pro-lifers” signed up a whole swathe of rural TDs who declare they oppose messing with the 8th Amendment. David Quinn et al will be claiming a similar “mandate”.

    Great news on the referendum though.It should get UNIVERSAL support.

      1. ahjayzis

        Which conversely also means everyone has a mandate for everything.

        Why do we bother voting?

      2. Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh

        If you’re a one issue candidate campaigning on the Roscommon Hospital or Virginia Bypass or whatever, then being elected counts as a mandate. But for parties with full manifestos, it doesn’t make sense to pretend that voting for them means you vote for everything in that manifesto.

        To turn the logic around, the election instructions would be “only vote for a party if you agree with EVERYTHING in their manifesto”. In such a situation, no-one would vote for any party.

        1. ahjayzis

          I understand that – but what are they to do then? Labour jettisoned it’s election promises – was that okay because they could point to people who never read the manifesto?

          Like it or not you vote for a person, not a manifesto. You might vote for Politician A because of their view on the 8th, but you’ve just elected their view on water too. It’s a balancing on the one hand/other hand job for the electorate – but the point remains you voted for someone who promised X. You don’t have to agree with everything in a manifesto, you also don’t get to veto things in the manifesto, your vote isn’t qualified that way.

          It’s why I wouldn’t entertain a vote for the likes of Lucinda or Ronan Mullen, they might be as one with me on cycle routes and arts funding, I just couldn’t live with their other peccadillos.

          1. Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh

            Ideally, parties should be upfront about their manifestos and state during their campaign that they have roughly a snowball’s chance in hell of getting an overall majority. If they get an overall majority, they’ll be able to implement their entire manifesto.

            However, the more likely scenario is that – if at all – they’ll be entering coalition with one or more other parties. In anticipation of that, they should – during the campaign – spell out their red line issues. Which parts of their manifesto are not up for negotiation? Which points would they leave coalition negotiations over?

            People accuse politicians of breaking promises. But you can’t realistically implement all of your manifesto if the people haven’t given you an overall majority.

        2. ahjayzis

          It’s a no-win situation you’re outlining – are you also arguing Labour voters in 2011 didn’t care about their commitment to oppose water charges? Are people completely powerless over policy?

          1. Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh

            I’m arguing that it wasn’t a defining issue for at least some Labour supporters.

            Please don’t jump on me everyone but I think it’s unreasonable for The People to accuse a party of breaking electoral promises when The People didn’t give them an overall majority in the first place. If FG promised X and Labour promised Y, then either there had to be compromise or another election. The country didn’t need a second election in early 2011.

            People are kind of powerless over policy. You only get to vote on a government once every few years. Maybe we need a lot more referendums and direct democracy.

          2. DubLoony

            60% of Labour’s 2011 manifesto was implemented, on 19% of the vote.

            They way some people talk, its like Labour got a landslide majority.

    1. some old queen

      Actually no, the real figure is those who didn’t pay and that is around 50%?

        1. ahjayzis

          That always seems weirdly qualified by IW though, doesn’t it? It’s never “60%” of people paid the LAST bill” and are expected to continue on – basically that they’re on board with IW.

          It’s always X% have paid at least ONE bill – which for all we know is the first one issued before the boycott got off the ground.

  13. 15 cents

    i dont get all the people who on IW related threads say “its a service that has to be paid for” .. we’ve been getting water literally all our lives (and everyone prior to us), which we’ve paid for. so why all of a sudden do u want to pay way more for the same thing? if its a matter of updating the works, mending pipes etc., that wouldve all been easily done thru the money that has already been spent on IW and metering. the government set up IW to be a profiteering business, one they could give to their European masters by their orders. if they had any backbone, and any interest in serving the irish people, they wouldve said “no, we cant start charging for water for you to benefit from, and we dont have to because its written into law and is protected, and we dont have to because we are well up on our debt repayments” .. and then they couldve updated the whole system with the money saved. instead they just nod and do whatever theyre told by the EU. Pathetic, useless, unpatriotic swines.

    1. DubLoony

      €40 billion to run the country every year, €28billion coming in in tax revenue.
      Had there been no troika, we would have been in a whole other heap of hell.

      See Argentina after 15 years, Venezuala now.

    1. 15 cents

      that has to be untrue .. surely. well if any further proof needed that the ultimate goal of water charges is to privatise it, its the EU demanding that we enforce it. like why else would they be bothered if we charged for it or not? why would they make it law, that you have to charge for water? they just dont even disguise their lust for fuppin us over.

      1. some old queen

        Perhaps it is just an instruction that when you pay for water it goes to water. No indirect taxation also?

  14. ronsh20

    Why don’t they wait for the commission to deliberate on the issue and publish it’s report? It’s quite possible that a commission made up of independent experts could come to the same conclusions as Right2Water. In fact, it’s almost certain, if you assume that Right2Water know what they’re on about about and aren’t just talking out of their collective bottoms.

  15. Truth in the News

    If they haven’t got rid of Irish Water and its Water Tax by the next Election it
    will be bye, bye, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail and the way things are going that
    wont be five years hence.

  16. rugbylane

    The entire exercise was, still is, and will continue to be an agenda of privatisation and monetisation of a nation’s most important and most valuable natural resource – water. (OK so there is also oxygen – however the Powers That Be haven’t figures out a way to meter that yet).

    Round 1 – went to the Powers That Be
    Round 2 – went to the people (including those who couldn’t be bothered fighting).
    Round 3 – ?

  17. some old queen

    The powers that be are

    People who have no idea what to do with their lives after retirement age like Kenny, Noonan, Burton etc.

    OR

    Irish Water management who jumped into it in the hope that that they also could reach top figure within the 40 year mainly tax payer funded defined benefit pension.

    No big conspiracy.

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