Protesters and motions to demand scrapping water taxes at today’s council meeting

Galway City Hall.

Galway City Hall.

City councillors will be met with demands to abolish the water tax and scrap the controversial quango Irish Water ahead of this afternoon’s meeting of the Galway City Council

A protest, organised by Right2Water Galway, takes place outside City Hall at 3.30pm, where councillors will be called on to support motions from Independent councillor Mike Cubbard and Sinn Féin.

Emboldened by the 100,000 people who took to the streets of Dublin on Saturday, anti-water tax campaigners feel “will of the people” is strongly on their side and that changes to the unpopular new tax are possible.

“Anyone who is able is asked to attend to let the councillors know how we think they should vote on water taxes and privatisation,” said R2W’s Dette McLoughlin. “They cannot ignore yesterday’s massive demonstration of people power. It was one of the largest demonstrations of the public will ever in Dublin.”

At the meeting, Sinn Féin’s Máiréad Farrell will call on the council to oppose the introduction of water charges and that the Government “reverses its decision to implement this unjust tax”. Cllr Cubbard’s motion will demand the Government “dissolve Irish Water”, which he describes as “an overly funded quango designed for eventual private sale” that has already seen €180 million “wasted” in its setting up.

Ahead of the meeting, protesters will call on councillors to support the motions.  Anticipating questions from Fine Gael and Labour councillors that if the water tax is abolished, there will be no means to pay for the water service and its upkeep, Ms McLoughlin said: “People already pay for water through general taxation, and should not be forced to pay twice for the same water. Water is a public good and should not be handed over to the same private market forces that caused the economic crisis.”

Although R2W supports the motion to abolish Irish Water, it knows that even if it is passed, the Government will not pay it any heed. An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, recently told the Dáil “Irish Water is here to stay”.

R2W’s main concern is that Irish Water not be allowed become a fully privatised company, which would then be free to hike water charges.

“The Government should go further and legislate that water in Ireland will never be sold off to private interests,” said Ms McLoughlin. “We need to put the interests of people before those of business whose only interest is profit. Water is not a commodity. It belongs to everyone.”

Further protests, organised by Right2Water, will take place in Galway and across the State on November 1.

This afternoon’s city council meeting will also seek to nominate a councillor to the Galway Sports Partnership and nominate 11 of the 18 members to the Galway City Joint Policing Committee.

Councillors are further expected to agree a date for the statutory budget meeting and discuss reports on the Strategic Policy Committee Scheme 2014 – 2019; the chief executive’s report for October 2014; and quarterly reports on transportation, the environment, recreation and amenity, housing and social inclusion, and community and culture.

Decisions will also have to be taken on the construction of 110kV underground cable from the Knockranny substation to the Ballybrit substation as well as on the sports capital grant allocations.

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