Irish Water has no right to any information held by the Galway City Council on its tenants and must not hand over any information on them to the controversial and mistrusted quango.
This is the view of Independent city councillor Mike Cubbard who has written to the city council’s chief executive Brendan McGrath, calling on him to “seek legal advice before complying” with Irish Water’s requested that City Hall provide it with all council tenants’ details.
According to Cllr Cubbard, reform of water charges legislation allows local authorities to act as a debt collecting service for Irish Water. Cllr Cubbard has called this “a disgrace”, saying unpaid bills are a matter for Irish Water and the occupier of the property, and that it is not up to the Galway City Council or any other local authority to “overstep its remit on behalf of this company”.
“We live in a democracy and a State allowing freedom of choice,” Cllr Cubbard said. “The people of our city and county, and right across our country, are educated enough to make up their own mind whether to pay or not pay Irish Water come April.”
Cllr Cubbard is also calling on his elected colleagues to allow for his motion, calling for the scrapping of Irish Water, be taken at the city council meeting in December.
The motion reads: “Galway City Council calls on the Government to dissolve Irish Water as it is nothing more than an overly funded quango designed for eventual private sale to the detriment of the Irish people. This is an extra tax and a burden on families across the country which cannot be acceptable. €180 million has already been wasted in setting up Irish Water, a service which local authorities provided adequately already. This service should be returned to the remit of the local authorities.”
Cllr Cubbard described Irish Water as “a farce from the moment it was set up”. He also rejected the Government’s recent demonising of protesters as violent trouble-makers and/or ‘those who want something for nothing’.
“Peaceful protests will continue and I will again stand side by side with those in opposition to this unjust charge,” he said. “I urge Fine Gael and Labour to take note of the fear, frustration, worry, and anxiety among people, and realise they have lost the mandate received in 2011 and must go to the people prior to 2016.”
Water charges protests on Saturday
Anti-water tax protests are to intensify in Galway, with protest groups from across the county uniting into a new force, Galway Unites Against Water Charges, the umbrella group for We Won’t Pay, Galway Against Water Charges, Galway Lockout, East Galway Says No to Water Charges, Glor na Tuaithe (Rural Voice ), and Right2Water Galway.
The new group will hold a major demonstration against the controversial tax at the Spanish Arch this Saturday at 1pm.
Despite the recent capping of fees at €160 for a two adult household, public anger at the charges and the Government’s handling of them has not abated and opposition to the unpopular charges looks set to continue.
“There will be an opportunity for the people of Galway to let the local politicians and the Government know exactly what they think of the revised water charges at the GUAWC protest,” said Dette McLoughlin of Right2Water Galway. The group is continuing its call for the public “not to comply with Irish Water and simply ignore their registration forms.”
Right2Water Galway will hold a public meeting on Monday December 1 at 7pm in the Harbour Hotel, which will be addressed by Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and People Before Profit Alliance’s James O’Toole.
“The Government’s step down has shown that people power is making a huge difference but that a further push is needed,” said Sen Ó Clochartaigh. “Water charges have not been scrapped, the water metering programme will continue, metered charges are coming in, they will only go up, and there is still no constitutional right to water.”
Sen Ó Clochartaigh will also hold meetings on the water charges in the Salthill Hotel, this evening at 8pm and in the Station House Theatre, Clifden, tomorrow, also at 8pm.