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More than 100,000 will turn up at water charge protests tomorrow, predicts TD

The claim came as Pat Rabbitte said the public mood is being “exploited”.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

TOMORROW’S NATIONWIDE WATER charge protests will ”far exceed” the 100,000 people that turned about at similar protests in Dublin earlier this month, according to Richard Boyd Barrett TD.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, the People Before Profit representative said that the scale of the public objection to the charges is unprecedented.

“These are the most nationwide protests that we have seen in the recent history of the State,” he said.

His claim about tomorrow’s marches came as former minister Pat Rabbitte TD claimed that the public mood is being exploited by those opposed to water charges.

Speaking on the same programme, Rabbitte said that claims about the privatisation of the water supply are a “red herring” from those opposed to Irish Water.

Rabbitte compared the objections to the utility to the objections to bin charges, something he says was detrimental to the service in the long run.

“People are very apprehensive after six years of hardship. They are tired of charges and that mood is being exploited by the same people who gave you the anti-bin charges protests,” Rabbitte said. “And remember where the anti-bin charges protests led to –  it led the privatisation of the bin services and it led to people not being able to pay.

“So, there is no danger, it’s an entire red herring about privatisation of water services. There won’t be any privatisation of water services. No government with its head screwed on would seek to privatise something as critical as the water supply.”

Rabbitte said that in some parts of the country water services are “derelict” and that the water is “not fit to drink”. These issues, he said, need up to €1 billion a year for the next ten years to fix.

“The State doesn’t have the €1 billion, so the reason it set up a new company in public ownership to treat and supply water is that that new company will be able to go the markets to borrow the investment that is necessary to give us a water system that’s fit for purpose,” he argued.

Asked what mistakes have been made in the establishment of Irish Water, Rabbitte said that the Government had been under constant pressure from the Troika to set up the utility in two years while similar systems in Europe took three to five years to establish.

But Boyd Barrett said that Rabbitte was “being entirely disingenuous”.

“I met the Troika, I’m on the the finance committee, the Troika made it absolutely clear that we could switch one measure for another as long as it brought it the same money so they’d have no problem if we’d brought in a wealth tax and not water charges,” he said.

He gave the example of a Financial Transaction Tax in Ireland which could raise up to €100m asking: “Which is fairer, a 0.1% tax on financial speculation or hundreds and hundreds of euro on the backs of ordinary people?”

First published at 8.48am

Read: No extra 4% bonus for ‘exceptional’ Irish Water workers >

Read: Irish Water is looking for a data protection manager – weeks after asking for PPS numbers >

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Rónán Duffy

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