Water charges protest to be held in city centre

Galway city councillors will receive ‘messages in a bottle’ over the controversial water charges, as part of a major demonstration in the city against the unpopular new tax.

There will be a protest against the water charges and water privatisation takes place on Wednesday October 1 - the day that the charges begin - starting at the fountain in Eyre Square at 5pm.

Attendees are asked to bring along empty water bottles and place messages inside them stating their reasons for opposing the Government’s domestic water policy. These will be delivered to local politicians.

The protest is being organised by the Galway Right2Water campaign, which is urging Galwegians to boycott the Irish Water ‘application packs’ which have begun arriving in homes. The average per household charge will possibly be €278 a year, but there are serious concerns that charges will rise after that. One former ESRI economist has estimated it will eventually be €600 a year.

Galway Right2Water campaign’s Kiran Emrich argues that there are no penalties as yet for not completing the forms.

“You cannot be jailed or fined for refusing to co-operate with Irish Water,” he said. “The charges cannot automatically be taken out of wage packets or your social welfare because it is not a tax that the Revenue Commissioners control. And we would be notified if the Government attempts to change the legislation. It is the easiest way of making a protest statement and is the first step in non co-operation with the Government plans.”

The campaign has also pointed out that citizens already pay the water supply through central taxation.

“In the 1990s, the Government tried to impose water charges on domestic users,” said GR2W’s Dette McLoughlin. “Households had their water supplies disconnected in Galway. This was met with protests and the Government were forced to retreat. People power defeated the water charges then and can do the same today.”

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