Right2Water campaign accused of major u-turn

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 05:32 pm

The Right2Water campaign have been accused of doing a major u-turn after it said that those who abuse or waste water should face charges, writes Daniel McConnell, Political Editor.
The concession by the group, which has been vehemently opposed to water charges, was seen as a major climbdown by the Government.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney, responding to an Irish Examiner online report of the comments, described the u-turn as a “interesting development”.
Addressing the Dáil's new Water committee, representatives of the Right2Water group agreed that charges should apply in cases where people use excessive amounts of water.
Under questioning from Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen, Stevie Fitzpatrick and David Gibney were pressed about previous comments from Brendan Ogle, the high-profile spokesman for the Right2Water campaign.

David Gibney

David Gibney

“Mr Ogle, like Mr Gibney, speaks for the Right2Water movement. He was asked specifically if he opposed charging people for excessive use and he said he was not. Does the Right2Water movement share that viewpoint?,” Mr Cowen asked.

Mr Fitzpatrick responded “It is the viewpoint”.

“If this committee was in a position to agree a process by which people who use excessive amounts, in the opinion of this committee, were charged, is Right2Water happy with that?” asked Mr Cowen.

“Yes,” was the response from Mr Fitzpatrick.

Mr Cowen asked at what level did the witnesses think was appropriate to consider excessive.

“Let us say the Minister said 123 litres a day was acceptable and we suggested the limit should be two or three times that amount and recommended a swimming pool take for beyond that amount. How would the witnesses penalise people who use more than that amount of water?” he asked.

Mr Gibney responded: “In terms of swimming pools, I live in a community that does not have a swimming pool and I do not know anyone who owns a swimming pool.

“Right2Water is not opposed to the Government introducing a swimming pool tax.

“There might be a provision in terms of commercial water charges and taxes. If we want to address waste then let us address areas where water is wasted.

“As much as 41% of water is lost through leaks.”

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Cowen, said the statement by the Right2Water spokespeople was “truly significant”.

Barry Cowan

Barry Cowan

Mr Gibney said the Government has given €2.7bn in tax cuts in recent years while funding for water services has been cut.

“If you want to fund water properly, stop giving away tax cuts, so let's address the core issue,” he said.

Mr Gibney questioned the Government's strategy of reducing the Universal Social Charge and he singled out Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher as to how much he pays.

“Richie Boucher, who works for Bank of Ireland, pays €63,000 in USC because he is a high earner. That is equivalent to a salary for two nurses,” Mr Gibney said.

Committee chairman Padraig O Ceidigh told Mr Gibney it was not appropriate to name individuals like that.

Mr Gibney was forced to apologise.

Fine Gael's Martin Heydon accused Mr Gibney of being opposed to cutting taxes for ordinary workers.

He said that 6% of the highest earners in this country pay 49% of the income tax and USC, which is a fairly substantial figure.

“They are also the key people who drive business and economic activity in this country,” said Mr Heydon.

“I am surprised that Mr Gibney is opposed to cuts in income tax for ordinary workers,” he added.

Source: Irish Examiner Feb 21 2017

Petition Minister for Justice and April rally on behalf of JobstownNotGuilty

Press conference todayannounces rally on 1st April at Liberty Hall, Dublin.  Photo Rossport 5, Patricia McKenna and TUists.

Press conference todayannounces rally on 1st April at Liberty Hall, Dublin.  Photo Rossport 5, Patricia McKenna and TUists.

Why is this important?

A 17 year old school student has already been found guilty of false imprisonment – a verdict a barrister described as “a recipe for totalitarianism”.

This related to an anti water charges protest in Jobstown, Tallaght in Dublin on 15 November 2014, where then Tánaiste Joan Burton’s car was delayed for 2 and ½ hours by a spontaneous community protest.

The 18 adults now awaiting trial from April 2017 face sentences up to life imprisonment. The trials, which will be six to eight weeks long, themselves will place enormous stress and strain on the defendants. If jailed, families would be left in very difficult situations, with jobs lost and parents in prison. If TD Paul Murphy is jailed for more than six months, he will be removed as a TD, denying the democratic choice of the people of Dublin South West.

The political establishment and the supportive media are desperate to tarnish the anti water charges movement as a violent, anti-democratic mob. By grossly misrepresenting and using what happened in Jobstown they want to weaken our democratic rights and so make it easier to impose economic inequality.

The laws used to directly seize the Property Tax from wages or benefits as well the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) legislation used to rob the wages of pubic servants, show that this attack is real. The dirty smear campaign against Maurice McCabe by the Gardai tops, shows the lengths this rotten establishment are willing to go to shut down descent and opposition to the status quo.

The definition of ‘false imprisonment’ is being changed and this affects everyone. Any temporary delay or obstruction at a protest or picket, which for example inconveniences a politician, could be deemed false imprisonment. This is about intimidating people and criminalising protest.

Source: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/protesting-is-not-a-crime-drop-the-charges-against-jobstownnotguilty

Public Meeting who'se who on Inishowen Rivers? Or is there more to it?

by James Quigley

                         click on image to enlarge


A public meeting is coming up entitled 'Who's Who on Inishowen Rivers' on Wednesday 22nd February, 6pm at An Grianán Hotel, Burt, Co Donegal. 

The heading on the poster states 'Inishowen Rivers Trust', however, it is unclear which of the organisations mentioned are responsible for the event and indeed what it is all about. 

I will take the poster at face value and believe that it is about a 'Who's Who? and all will be revealed on the night.

My interest in the event is not solely environmental but also on the political and commercial relationship around say community organisations and elected public bodies dealing with our ecosystem and communities.  Have the parties involved a genuine interest or have they some form of agenda?  Do they hold or are they pushing a status quo line? 

When I read about Government bodies and Government funded organisations, whether community or not,   my internal critical radar starts to blip.  I immediately have toask how are these organisations funded and then how did they act around past and present controversies on water and environmental issues in Inishowen? 

My own answer is that I can't recall any of the stated organisations giving constructive support or encouragement to any recent or past controversial environmental or political issues.  Rather it is my experience that they either say nothing or have actively criticised any who spoke out or asked awkward questions.  

As for bureaucratic officialdom, e.g.  County Councils, it has been my experience that they misinform, obstruct,  are rude, doctrinaire and paternalistic and even worse.  It is in the Government's interest, good PR,  to support clean ups, tree planting, nice community events etc.  They will support financially and practically any organisations pushing it's agenda and in so doing control them.  But try asking officialdom awkward questions like what are they putting into our drinking water or sewage into the sea and rivers,  allowing fish farms willy-nilly along our shores and the lists goes on.   Never mind the big one charging and privatising our water.   Then you will see their real side.  I wonder will we hear anything like this at the meeting in the Grianán on Wednesday night?

Maybe I should have an open mind and wait to hear the presentations, sip tea with in the establishment, however,  it is difficult to dampen my prejudices.