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AAA sends legal letter to Sinn Féin amid anti-water charge infighting in Limerick

The Anti-Austerity Alliance has accused a Sinn Féin councillor of “scurrilous lies”.

LImerick anti-water-charge protest.
LImerick anti-water-charge protest.
Image: Facebook

THE ANTI-AUSTERITY Alliance (AAA) has sent a legal letter to a Sinn Féin councillor in Limerick over what they claim are “untrue slurs” published by a local newspaper.

A solicitor on behalf of of the AAA has asked Cllr Séighin Ó Ceallaigh to withdraw statements they say “went way beyond what you would expect even from the establishment parties”.

The statements were attributed to Cllr Ó Ceallaigh from a post on the Right2Water Facebook page and were subsequently published by the Limerick Post.

The AAA say the paper last week carried a right-to-reply but they are now seeking that the remarks be withdrawn.

“We were disappointed that Sinn Féin, despite our protestations, persisted in this unfounded attack on the non-payment campaign and we felt the claims were so serious and false that we had to reply, and seek to get these statements withdrawn, and our good name restored,” the AAA said in a statement.

A statement from the AAA has described the claims as “scurrilous lies”:

In last week’s Limerick Post, Sinn Fein Councillor Seighin O Ceallaigh joined in the establishment’s smear campaign against the water charges movement, by attacking the ‘We Won’t Pay’ campaign as being ‘exclusive’, and claiming the Anti-Austerity Alliance use the anti-water charges movement for political careerism and “to illegally raise unaccounted for money”. These are not only scurrilous lies but also a disgusting slur on the ordinary working class people who have built a powerful campaign in Limerick.

Cllr Ó Ceallaigh acknowledged to TheJournal.ie that a legal letter has been received but was unwilling to comment on what approach he will take, confirming only that his solicitor will be examining it.

The legal letter follows disagreement between Limerick anti-water charge activists ahead of last month’s nationwide day-of-action.

There was a dispute over whether AAA Cllr John Loftus had agreed to speak alongside Right2Water campaigners.

His colleague, Cllr Cian Prendiville, told TheJournal.ie that the alliance feels the focus should now be on the non-payment of charges. An approach, he says, is not shared by Right2Water.

“We believe the key focus must be on mass non-payment, we were disappointed to see a group set up that doesn’t have this focus.”

Ó Ceallaigh acknowledges that Right2Water is not attempting to organise a mass boycott of the charge, arguing that doing so would exclude people who would be unwilling to risk the repercussions.

“What we think is that you’re going to have some people who are genuinely afraid and we don’t think they should be alienated. Especially elderly people and after the government’s response to the property tax,” he says.

Prendiville disagrees, however, that the anti-water charges campaign is hampered by infighting.

“Not at all, I think it’s one of the most organised campaigns that we have seen in this country in recent years. ‘We Won’t Pay’ has assisted communities from Moyross to Galway and we helped organise protests with not only 20,000 people in Limerick but hundreds of thousands right across the country.”

Read: Joan Burton ‘would have to be a key witness’ if Paul Murphy goes on trial >

Read: This would be the first act of a Sinn Féin government >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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