This weekend’s protests illustrate the depth of anger against the government’s establishment of Irish Water and roll out of water charges across the country. I believe people should join the right to water protests to voice there anger for a number of reasons.
The government ignored the concerns expressed by Fianna Fáil about the way they were introducing water charges. They ignored our calls to include ability to pay and they set up Irish Water at the cost of millions of euro when there was no need for it.They have not invested in any water infrastructure to improve the quality of the water either yet went ahead and introduced charges on October 1st .
Because of people’s anger and confusion about how the water charges were going to impact on them the government is rapidly changing their position on water charges.
Here is a brief outline on our position on water charges that may be useful for those of you attending and speaking at tomorrow’s protests in your area.
· Fianna Fáil is opposed to the current water charges system introduced by the government. People are paying for a water system that is not fit for purpose with water charges going towards the Irish water super quango rather than investing in the water network.
· We believe that Water charges should be suspended pending the completion of a comprehensive Oireachtas review of the operation and expenditure of Irish Water. People should only pay for a service that delivers.
· Fianna Fail consistently opposed the establishment of Irish Water. This super quango is heavily reliant upon expensive outside consultants all the while paying staff lucrative bonuses. Water charges are going towards paying for this quango rather than into the water network.
· Fine Gael / Labour have set up Irish water in such a manner that will allow it to be privatised in the future. Fianna Fáil is completely opposed to any plans for the privatisation of Irish Water.
· Sinn Féin have backpedalled on the issue and now state water charges are a red line issue. However there are serious questions to be answered by Sinn Féin on their water policy. In their water policy document published in September 2014 Sinn Féin have advocated private equity investment in Irish Water. This is privatisation by another name. We are calling on Sinn Fein to clarify their position on the future of Irish Water.
· Under our EU obligations, Article 9(1) of the EU Water Framework Directive, Member States are required to ‘take account of the principle of recovery of the costs of water services, including environmental and resource costs’.
· The Directive requires that, from 2010 onwards, water pricing should provide incentives to use water efficiently and ensure an adequate contribution by different water users desegregated at least into industry, agriculture and households.
· The Directive also provides that Member States may take account of the social, environmental and economic effects of water usage in recovering the costs of water services.
The curent set up is wrong and I for one am angry in relation to it.