Fianna Fáil’s "capitulation to public pressure" on water charges shows that "sustained campaigning has worn down the resilience of the establishment" and this weekend's national demonstration "could put the final nail in the coffin for water charges once and for all".
This is the view of Sinn Féin Galway City East councillor Mairéad Farrell, who is calling on Galwegians to attend the major Right2Water March in Dublin this Saturday.
She was speaking following Fianna Fáíl's announcement it wants water charges abolished and water services instead funded by general taxation. The controversial and deeply unpopular charges are currently suspended until at least next March. An expert commission has been set up to determine the future of water charges. The introduction of water charges was part of the bailout deal Brian Cowen’s Fianna Fáil government signed with the Troika in 2010.
However Cllr Farrell warned that water charges "have not gone away", with the current, Fine Gael led Government “only advocating for a temporary suspension of the charges". Her concerns were echoed by Right2Water Galway organiser Dette Mc Loughlin: "Householders in Galway have taken a brave and principled stance boycotting Irish Water. The Government has been forced back on their water services agenda so many times, but we are asking people not to become complacent, thinking the campaign is already won."
Cllr Farrell criticised the Government for "not listening to the people" on this issue.
"The imposition of water charges was rejected by the people in the General Election and the majority of TDs elected to the current Dáil were sent with a mandate to end domestic water charging," she said. "Fianna Fáil conceived the idea of a direct water charge, so if they have been convinced water charges should be abolished, surely Fine Gael and Independents can be compelled to legislate directly for the abolition of domestic water charges."
Kiran Emrich, a R2W Galway activist, said, "Fine Gael were strongly echoing the comments of the European Commission regarding EU rules not allowing water to be paid through direct taxation. It has not been lost on people that the Government is now prepared to spend public money on appealing a European Commission declaration that Apple owes billions in back-tax."
Right2Water Galway is running a bus from the Galway Cathedral, leaving at 10.30am, returning from Dublin at 5.30pm. To reserve seats text 086 - 3366525.