With ‘application packs’ from the controversial organisation Irish Water arriving in houses across Galway, householders are being encouraged to boycott the letter and not pay the tax.
Major concerns, and questions, have been raised about the wisdom of individuals giving Irish Water their PPS number. According to Tommy Holohan of the Anti-Austerity Alliance and the We Won’t Pay campaign, giving Irish Water personal data constitutes an agreement that it can share it with unspecified third parties.
“Our data can be transferred and stored anywhere in the world and processed by people doing business with Irish Water,” he warned. “If Irish Water is privatised or part of it is sold to someone, or if it buys into another company, at any stage, our personal data, it admits on its website, ‘will be one of the transferred assets’”.
Both the WWP campaign and Galway Right2Water are encouraging people not to reply to the IW application packs as there are as yet, no penalties for doing so.
“You cannot be jailed or fined for refusing to co-operate with Irish Water,” said GR2W’s Kiran Emrich. “The charges cannot automatically be taken out of wage packets or your social welfare because it is not a tax the Revenue Commissioners control. And we would be notified if the Government attempts to change the legislation.”
Mr Holohan added: “Our water supply cannot be cut off and it now seems that they cannot reduce the supply either. Water charges were beaten before in the 1990s by a determined campaign of protest and non-payment and it can happen again.”
What is the cost of water?
Various figures have been put forward as to what people will have to pay for water once the charges come into effect each month.
The Galway Right2Water campaign, estimate the average per household charge will possibly be €278 a year, but added that one former ESRI economist has estimated it will eventually be €600 a year.
We Won’t Pay has pointed out that Irish householders will pay €4.88 per 1,000 litres of water compared to a western European average of less than €2. It also pointed out that, based on a Department of Environment study, a home with four adults will cost €908, while an eight-minute shower per day will cost each person €180 a year (Unilever study ), and 10 flushes of the toilet per day will cost €150 a year (figure according to The Irish Times ).
“It’s likely to get even worse,” said Mr Holohan. “These prices are only set until 2016, after that they will probably rise.”
Sinn Féin councillor Mairéad Farrell has warned that the introduction of Water Charges will see “many families being pushed over the edge”.
She cited a recent report by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service which revealed that the average disposable income of individuals availing of its services is €8.75 a week. “It is ludicrous to expect these families to foot another bill of €500 per annum,” she said. “I question where Fine Gael and Labour expect these people to find the money.”
Protest and meetings
We Won’t Pay, in association with Galway Anti-Austerity Alliance is holding a series of public meetings on the issue of water charges, starting Tuesday September 30 in the Knocknacarra Community Centre at 7pm.
Galway Right2Water is organising an anti-water charges demonstration which will take place on Wednesday October 1 at 5pm in Eyre Square
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.