Despite today being the deadline for registration for Irish Water, opposition to the controversial tax remains strong with motions demanding the abolition of water charges and Irish Water to come before today’s Galway City Council meeting.
Sinn Féin city councillor Máiréad Farrell will call for the council to “oppose the introduction of water charges” and for the Government to “reverse their decision and not implement this unjust tax”.
The second motion comes from Independent councillor Mike Cubbard and calls on the Government to “dissolve Irish Water” as it is “nothing more than an overly funded quango designed for eventual private sale to the detriment of the Irish people.” The motions will be taken today in City Hall, when the council meets at 4pm. There will also be a protest outside City Hall on College Road, before the meeting.
So far, Wicklow County Council, Laois County Council, and Donegal County Council have passed motions opposing water charges, and Cllr Farrell is calling on the other 17 councillors to back her motion. “As city councillors there is an onus on us to stand in solidarity with our constituents,” she said. “We are not in a position to change the Government’s austerity agenda; however, we must challenge it at every opportunity.”
Of the 18 members on Galway City Council, the three FG and two Labour councillors will oppose both motions, while Sinn Féin, Cllr Cubbard, and Independent councillor Catherine Connolly will support. The deciding votes will be cast by the Independent ex-PDs Declan McDonnell, Terry O’Flaherty; Fianna Fáil councillors Ollie Crowe, Michael J Crowe, and Peter Keane, and Independent Noel Larkin. The often conservative nature of Galway city councillors is likely to see the majority back the Government stance on water charges and defeat both motions. However, given the uncertain political climate and public mood, this is by no means a certainty.
A third water related motion will be heard at today’s meeting. The motion, by Cllr Catherine Connolly, calls on the council “not to evict, threaten to evict, refuse, or threaten to renew a tenancy” of any tenants who “refuse to co-operate with Irish Water” and demand that landlords involved in the RAS/Long Term Leasing schemes “act in like manner”.
The protest, which is being organised by Right2Water, takes place between 3.15pm and 4pm, and is in support of the motions by councillors Cubbard and Farrell. The organisers are asking that people "join in the peaceful act of lobbying the councillors to urge them to support our demands".
"These matters are of great concern to the people of Galway," said a Right2Water spokesperson. "The three huge demonstrations that have been held in the city, most recently last Saturday when up to 700 people came out in atrocious weather against the Government's domestic water policy of charges that will inevitably pave the way for privatisation."