If a high number of people refuse to pay the first four water bills issued between next month and July 2016, any incoming government will be under “huge pressure to scrap the charges altogether”.
This is the view of Conor Burke of the Anti Austerity Alliance and the local We Won’t Pay campaign. He was reacting to threats this week by the Environment Minister Alan Kelly to introduce legislation to deduct water charge bills from wages or social welfare payments.
Mr Burke said the proposal is one “born out of fear” and a “belated realisation by the Government” that it will “not be able to force the level of payment necessary through scare tactics and intimidation” alone.
Mr Burke pointed out that any such penalties, no matter what exact form they may take, will only apply until July 2016, a year and three months after the first bills have been issued, which will also be beyond the lifetime of the current Government.
As a result, Mr Burke argues that a high level of non-payment from the public throughout the period of the first four bills “will put huge pressure on any incoming government to scrap the charges altogether”.
Meanwhile, residents in Clarinbridge have been resisting the installation of meters in a number of houses, leading to a stand off between them and Irish Water workers. Mr Burke has called this “a clear sign” of the “determined opposition among ordinary people” and an “inspiring sign of things to come once installations begin in Galway city”.
However Mr Burke said that while opposition to meters is “very important” in sending a “message of defiance” to the Government and Irish Water, non-payment is the most effective means of opposition as it “will make the charges uncollectable”.