By Enda Craig
This article will detail events leading up to and including the peaceful agreement between anti water meter groups in the Inishowen peninsula, Donegal, Ireland and water meter subcontractor John Gildea, MBC Builders, Ballybofey, Donegal.
The full agreement can be read in buncranatogether.com 'Groundbreaking Agreement on Water Meters'.
The article will also show how afterwards we were abandoned. Elements have gathered on facebook and started an intimidation campaign against the brokers of the deal and in particular have singled out the elected spokesperson Mr Quigley.
In January of this year Buncrana Against Irish Water became aware of an exciting new development concerning the Irish Water metering installation programme that had taken place in Moneymore, Drogheda, Co Louth.
We made contact with the central people in Moneymore, Gary and Anita Collins, and they agreed to come to a meeting in Buncrana to relate their story and explain how they finally achieved an agreement between the meter installing contractor and the residents of six housing estates ( six hundred houses ).
Buncrana Public Meeting Public Approves Negotiations
Click photo to the right to read the about the Buncrana public meeting held in the Lake of Shadows hotel in Buncrana on the 19th Feb. 2015 where two speakers talked about their agreement in Moneymore.
At the end of this riveting meeting ( 250 plus people ) those present indicated by an overwhelming show of hands that Buncrana Against Irish Water should attempt to replicate this type of agreement for the Inishowen peninsula.
With this mandate from the Inishowen people Buncrana Against Irish Water now set about formulating a strategy that would hopefully deliver a similar agreement
As can be seen in the link above, Buncrana Against Irish Water made extensive efforts by contacting An Garda Siochana, Irish Water, Meter Contractor and various politicians at local and national level. There are numerous correspondence including emails detailing all this effort. In addition there were several committee meetings and local public meetings where our strategies were discussed. All our efforts have been in public view on our facebook page 'Buncrana Together' and our web page www.buncranatogether.com.
Chronological Order of Correspondence Leading to Present Agreement
The following lists correspondences between Jack Murray, Sinn Fein and James Quigley leading up to a meeting with John Gildea, MBC Builders, Ballybofey, meter installation sub contractor in Donegal.
Out of the blue on 27/05/2015 James Quigley, chairperson of Buncrana Against Irish Water received an email from a Jack Murray, Sinn Fein. This email stated;
On 27/05/15 16:24, JACK MURRAY (COUNCILLOR) To James Quigley
I have been informed that John Gildea - the subcontractor for GMC Sierra - has said he is willing to meet with any of the anti-water charge groups in Inishowen.I said I would pass on the message to let you know.
On 27/05/2015 17:10 James Quigley wrote to Jack Murray
Jack that is very interesting and a positive development. What we have been calling for. I would like to know a bit more. Can we find out who informed you and is it legit? How do we go from here, arrangements?
On 27/05/15 17:21, JACK MURRAY (COUNCILLOR) To James Quigley
Gildea himself contacted our councillor in Ballybofey, Liam Doherty, who in turn contacted me.
It's definitely a legitimate request. If you want to go ahead with the meeting, let me know and I'll pass it on and make arrangements from there
On 27/05/15 17:03 JACK MURRAY (COUNCILLOR) To: James Quigley
Liam says he's willing to meet groups individually and can be arranged at your convenience. If you let me know how you want to proceed, I'll do my best to arrange it.
On 27/05/2015 17:53 From James Quigley To: "JACK MURRAY (COUNCILLOR)
Good and yes of course, but will he be meeting individual groups or together? If latter then we need to have a uniformed agreement beforehand. Was this offer today?
On 27/05/2015 18:54 James Quigley To: "JACK MURRAY (COUNCILLOR)"
Subject: Re: Meeting offer
Jack personally can't see advantage of meeting individually. We can't leave it up to him to decide. It should be easy to come to agreement among groups to decide what we want.
On 27/05/15 19:08, JACK MURRAY (COUNCILLOR) To James Quigley
No I think he's up for meeting whichever way you wish. Do you want to meet him along with other groups and if so when?
On 27'05/15 16:39 James QuigleyTo:JACK MURRAY (COUNCILLOR)
As a group and as soon as possible but we would need to know what groups agree or not and we would need to meet beforehand.
On 27/05/15 19:19, JACK MURRAY (COUNCILLOR) To James Quigley
The only people I've contacted are yourself, Enda, Philip and Sinead. You are the only person I've heard back from. As soon as the others respond, I'll tell them that you want to be meet together and ask if they're agreeable. If so, I'll ask Liam to contact Gildea and see if this weekend suits.
On 27/05/15 2015 19:25 James Quigley To:JACK MURRAY (COUNCILLOR)
I would include Donegal Water Warriors and if I was gildea I would want the IRSP too.
On 27/05/15 22:40, JACK MURRAY (COUNCILLOR) To James Quigley
That's grand. I don't have a contact for either of them so could you ask them?
On 28/05/15 09:21 James Quigley To: JACK MURRAY (COUNCILLOR)
Jack fine I will try to contact them. Enda is away but will be back late today. If a group is decided on we could have a meeting in exchange or lake of shadows Saturday morning. No reason why we could not arrange a meeting. I rang Sinead, she seems to be in agreement but
a meeting would have to be evening because of work. If it was sunday then that wouldn't matter?
On 28/05/15 a post was put up on IAWC facebook page by Sinead Stewart, admin about a discussion whether or not to accept an invitation to meet with the contractor MBC Builders. Buncrana Against Irish Water and other groups that were involved in the Sinn Fein's discussions were not consulted about this. After approx 26 likes and 20 individual comments most of which were from people outside Inishowen the thread was finished. Most of the comments came protesters outside Inishowen mainly Letterkenny. They were particularly strident comments and they demanded no meeting/contact with the contractor. IAWC very quickly caved in to the loud voices from Letterkenny, agreed they would not meet with the contractor and considered the topic was closed down.
Not only did IAWC go it alone without consulting other Inishowen groups but they did not take control of their own destiny for the Inishowen peninsula and weekly acquiesced to outsider demands. They abandoned the the mandate given by the people at the Lake of Shadow's meeting, about which they were very much aware, considering a number of their influential members were present. This decision was quite shameful and demonstrated very poor judgement given the facts that existed. They decided to abandon the road to a peaceful resolution to one of controversy and possible violence.
On 29/05/15, responding to a post in Buncrana Together querying why IAWC decided to put it up on facebook, Christina Crumlish, IAWC facebook admin said
“The intention of the post is stated within the post. Even though we in IAWC do not favour a meeting with the subcontractor, in our opinion this was not a decision which could be made by one or two small groups of people on behalf of the whole of Inishowen. This issue affects the whole of Inishowen. By putting it to the page we are obtaining as broad a range of views as possible and allowing those in Inishowen to decide for themselves. The majority of views we have obtained so far, both publicly and privately, have the opinion that it would be of no benefit to meet with the subcontractor. A view we share. We thank everyone for their input and trust this matter is now concluded.
On 02/06/15 Mr Quigley received this email from Sinn Fein
“Further to my previous correspondence regarding John Gildea's request for a meeting, his phone number is ***********. I am asking that you would contact him directly as I do not wish to be a facilitator or mediator for John Gildea.The protesters may wish to nominate a spokesperson to contact him or each group may wish to contact him separately to discuss a possible meeting.”
After this last email there was no further communication from Sinn Fein, local R2W or IAWC concerning a meeting with the contractor.
On 03/06/15 Mr Quigley, chairman of Buncrana Against Irish Water, received a communication from Mr John Gildea looking for a meeting. When questioned why he contacted Mr Quigley, he was told that the Sinn Fein gave him Mr Quigley's name.
Meeting with Contractor arranged, Mandate Fulfilled
Buncrana Against Irish Water, by way of contrast and after consultation with members of the or committee and other groups and individuals throughout Inishowen, decided to uphold the given mandate and initiate discussions with MBC Builders. A delegation was agreed from across the peninsula and met with the contractor on 16th July. The outcome was a huge success. A similar agreement to Moneymore was hammered out after some tough negotiations. Mr Quigley was appointed spokesperson, shook hands with Mr Gildea on behalf of the delegation. The delegation believed that they had achieved the objective as perthe Lake of Shadows mandate.
Orchestrated Orgy of Abuse, Threats, Misinformation
Now,unbelievably, comes a passage of posts on FB pages from Donegal Water Warriors and Inishowen Against Water Charges which would do justice to the Ku Klux Klan in terms of its vicious and obscene abuse directed mostly against Mr Quigley, spokesperson for the agreement negotiating team. Here's a selection. We decided not to put names, however all this can be seen on the respective facebook pages. (Links to various original pdf document are found at end of article)
“Well well well what have we got here then. Bunch of stupid fuckers all in the one room together.. Inishowen your on your own.”
“I'm actually speechless!such a stupid move, gildea will be laughing his head off at yous and rightly so, I'd nearly shake his hand for yous fell for it hook line and sinker!! Well mark mc kinny and James take it back to gildea the water warriors made no agreement and we will haunt them down where ever they go while supporting IAWC and r2w as these groups made no agreement either and continues to stand with the people for the people, disgusted to say the least”
“James Quigley did John buys yous all a drink at this meeting”
“Oh ffs what is wrong with these folks heads grrrrraaaaaahhhhhhgrrr grumpy emoticon grumpy emoticon grumpy emoticon grumpy emoticon”
“Like I said wonder did they get their 5 pieces of silver, judas springs to mind, good luck to those of you who have sold yourselves out the water warriors want no part in it!!”
“What the f#*k?! Is this for real?! So Inishowen has ventured into talks with meter installers, this has to be bullshit or this james guy is a complete arse”
“Inishowen Against Water Charges Group and Right2Water Inishowen are not involved. Just to be clear about that. The two largest groups in Inishowen.”
“Cheers James lol il split ye next time I see ye with that meter grrrrrrrrrrrr”
“I have also come across James Quigley and his numerous fake facebook accounts. He is a fool and I am not afraid to say that to anyone.”
“Well I am absolutely livid here. How dare they, how feckin dare they undo all the good work we done here in Letterkenny and surrounding areas. Standing out from morning till night in the freezing cold for months, getting vile abuse from Dermot and Paddy Gildea, and now James Quigley, the moron, is going to throw the Inishowen people to the wolves, all for the sake of a few moments of fame. As for standing with the people to protect them from underhand practices Mark mc Kinney, are you willing to stand on an estate in Inishowen from 7.30 in the morning till 6pm in the evening just to watch over them, because basically that is what we had to do here in Letterkenny, and they broke every agreement we ever made. They were no longer working and that is the way it should have stayed. This is a massive betrayal to anti water protestors all over Ireland and I cannot see any sensible reason for making such an agreement. I am sickened and disgusted. Ye are the people who have split the movement in Donegal.”
“So James Quigley decided to do a deal with IRISH WATER About installing meters in inishowen who gave him the idea he is speaking for us let me make this very clear James Quigley makes no deals with anyone who has any thing to do with IRISH WATER for me I have said nothing since I left buncrana together but the main rason I left is James Quigley chairman of buncrana together believes he owns the group all he has done is destroy the group and should resign for the good of buncrana together as I believe a lot of the people involved in buncrana together are very good people”
“Well I'm glad all the morons pictured have finally shown their true colours. Worse than enda and co. Talk about traitors! Hope their little picture and two seconds of fame has finally gotten them the attention that they crave! Least we can separate the genuine from the crooked now. Don't think the people of inishowen will be too happy but hey whatever. On their heads it can be.”
“Buncrana together so called agreement means nothing whatsoever because no one knew about this meeting with the contractors members where not informed I may not be a member of buncrana together any more but members contaced me after the agreement was made public they knew nothing about it this is the kind of person James Quigley is”
“Thomas, may I ask you something, who in this community or for that matter James group had prior knowledge of his dealings with glides? I can assure you that this isn't the first time that meeting s have taken place without members knowledge or input. I could say more but hopefully at another time and place.”
Facebook bullying the mob attack
Perhaps its the well known feature of facebook bullying but this does not excuse people acting like a pack of hyenas picking out their prey and devouring it mindlessly. Both the IAWC and Donegal Water Warriors pages allow this type of hatred comments attacking anyone who dare voice opposition. It is difficult to accept that a small number of ignorant individuals mostly from outside Inishowen, none of whom attended the Lake of Shadows meeting, (posted on their FB page ) finds it acceptable to attempt to viciously bully people in the Inishowen peninsula in an attempt at dictatorship. It is even more abhorrant and shameful that a small number of IAWC members joined in the ' feeding frenzy ' of abuse against a Buncrana resident.
IAWC abandoned the people and the possibility of an agreement by not being capable of standing up to outside pressure. They have compounded their inexcusable actions by joining forces with the outsider aggressors. They have brought no honour either to themselves or their group by this low grade behaviour.
It must also be mentioned that the cowardly behaviour of Right2Water and other organisations including political parties have not gone amiss as they hunker down and witness this tsunami of abuse. Before going to print the first party to fully back the agreement and condemn the cyber bully was the IRSP. The non action of Right2Water both locally and nationally and that of the political parties is stark when it is remembered how often we had to listen to the mantra of 'Unity'.
The only good to evolve out of this despicable, sorry episode is the existence of the agreement. All fair minded people must rally behind it and insist that divisive, base hatred and violent forces will not win the day. Outsiders who refuse to follow any path to a peaceful resolution should not be allowed to dictate to the residents of Inishowen. Nasty confrontation and insult is the road to nowhere'