Struggling Galway families should not be expected to pay €500 a year for water, especially when there are non-taxation methods available to fund water infrastructure.
This is the view of Sinn Féin city councillor Mairéad Farrell who will be proposing a motion at the next Galway City Council meeting, calling on the Government to “reverse its decision” to implement the “unjust water tax”.
The three Sinn Féin elected members will seek to gain the support of the other 15 councillors at the Monday October 13 meeting. This is the second time in less than a month the party has sought to oppose an unpopular new tax. In September, the party proposed that City Hall reduce the property tax by 15 per cent - which the local authority is within its power to do. However the motion failed to gain wide support and full rate remains in place.
Cllr Farrell will propose the motion and while she acknowledged the council itself cannot stop the implementation of the water tax, backing the call “is vital to show solidarity with the people of Galway and send a strong message of opposition to these charges”.
She said it is “ludicrous to expect struggling families to foot another bill of €500 per annum” for the use of water, and she is calling on Fine Gael and Labour councillors to explain where “people are to find this money”.
At Monday’s meeting, Fine Gael and Labour councillors can be expected to oppose the motion and will ask where the money for water services will come from, if the service itself is not subject to taxation. Anticipating this line of questioning, Cllr Farrell argues that water should be paid for through exchequer funding, non-domestic water charges, and the Local Government Fund. She said instead of metering, investment should be made in water infrastructure by re-directing €539 million from the National Pension Reserve Fund towards a capital investment programme. That money would then be used to repair the “massive leakage problem and interruption to supply across the State as well as dealing with the contaminated water that has plagued parts of Galway city and county for decades”.
SF has recently been accused of being “soft” on the water charges issue by The Socialist Party, after SF finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty appeared to claim that water charges was not “a red line issue” for the party going into any future coalition government. The party has since clarified its stance, with Cllr Farrell saying that “when Sinn Féin gets into government we will end this scandal”.