Water services will go the way of refuse collection in Galway with privatisation a virtual certainty in the near future, Independent city councillor Catherine Connolly has warned.
The Left councillor, who joined in yesterday evening’s protest against water charges in Eyre Square, has described the highly controversial new tax, as “unfair and unjust” and “simply the first step on the road to privatisation”.
Speaking to the Galway Advertiser, Cllr Connolly said she would “love to see the public take a stand against the tax and stand together against it”, but also understands fears over penalties, extra charges, and punishments in relation to refusing to pay. “It’s undemocratic and draconian,” she said. “People should not be brought along through fear.”
There is widespread concern that the water tax has little to do with water conservation and the environment, but is simply another Government revenue generating measure to pay back the State’s debts.
Cllr Connolly fears that the privatisation of the refuse service is an indication of what will happen to Irish Water, which is currently a semi-State body, eventually.
“If you had a problem with water you could ring a councillor or City Hall, but I’m concerned that this will become an unaccountable system,” she said. “Contradictory reports are also emerging as to how the whole system will operate. It seems as if it is being made up as it goes along.”
Cllr Connolly said she has “no problem paying taxes” and that it is the “duty of citizens to do so”, but that the public was entitled to expect quality services in return. Indeed concerns remain as to how much money, if any, local authorities will get from Irish Water to upgrade the leakages in pipe network.
“I do not believe water is a commodity to be bought and sold,” said Cllr Connolly. “The right to clean water is a basic human right and should not be restricted or curtailed or subject to allowances by any government.”
She also pointed out that citizens already pay for water services through current taxation.