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Protest group dismisses water charge concessions as 'an attempt to buy time'

Right2Water is planning another mass protest on 10 December.

Brendan Ogle and John Douglas at today's meeting.
Brendan Ogle and John Douglas at today's meeting.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT’S CONCESSIONS on the payment structure of water charges have been dismissed as “an attempt to buy time” by the Right2Water protest group.

John Douglas, the General Secretary of Mandate Trade Union, said that concessions – due to be announced tomorrow – are a “scam” and a futile “bribe to try to deflate the #Right2Water campaign”.

Speaking at a meeting in Dublin today, Brendan Ogle of Unite Trade Union said that the Government is “back-peddling so quickly [over water charges] if it doesn’t stop it’s going to fall over itself”.

Ogle stated that Fine Gael and Labour want to “sneak in a regressive water tax”, to which hundreds of thousands of citizens are opposed.

He said it was unfair that a person in Jobstown or Dundalk would be expected to pay the same amount as a person on Ailesbury Road in Dublin 4.

“It doesn’t get more regressive than that,” he noted.

The main leaked points are as follows:

  • Bills will be delayed until after Christmas;
  • Households would register through Irish Water, but register their PPS number with the Department of Social Protection;
  • This will entitle them to a €100 rebate that will be available to everyone, not just those on social welfare;
  • Single adult homes will have their payments capped at €176, but this comes down to €76 when the €100 rebate is factored in;
  • Homes with two adults or more will have a maximum rate of €278 which comes down to €178 when the €100 is accounted for.

The Government is expected to officially announce its revised approach to water charges tomorrow.

Speaking on the way into the Cabinet meeting this morning, Environment Minister Alan Kelly admitted that mistakes had been made in relation to Irish Water, but said he hoped that “reasonable people” would accept the concessions.

Aggression

When asked about the aggression demonstrated at some anti-water charge protests, in particular last weekend’s protest in Jobstown, Ogle said Right2Water was not involved in that demonstration, adding that violence has no place at water protests.

We understand that people are very angry at six years of austerity, but anger is not a strategy and anger is not a policy. We respect your anger, but you must restrain yourself.

Ogle said that while the vast majority of protesters are peaceful, there have been instances where “people get carried away”.

Anything other than peaceful protest will damage this campaign … Peaceful protest is the only way, peaceful protest is what got us this far.

Ogle added that anyone who cannot “restrain” themselves at demonstrations “should stay away”.

He said that the group expected tens of thousands of people to attend another mass anti-water charge protest in Dublin on 10 December.

A number of politicians attended the meeting, including Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, Richard Boyd Barrett and Paul Murphy.

Additional reporting by Daragh Brophy

It looks like water charges are being put on hold until after Christmas

Two arrested over protest that trapped Joan Burton in her car for hours

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Órla Ryan

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