(See the letter below, dated June 9th, 2016, to Simon Coveney, Minister. It is signed Brendan Ogle on behalf of Right2Water)
Putsch is maybe the wrong word since this takeover of Right2Water by some unions, parties and what could be described as the 'Dublin clique' has already taken place. This coup was neither sudden, democratic or from the grass roots. Instead it is a top down manipulation of the movement by undemocratic and underhand methods. It can be described as controlled opposition.
The leadership of R2W does not involve a cross section of the anti water charge movement throughout Ireland and seems to rely on nobody saying anything. It seems to take a leaf out of the establishment's modus operandi of 'weather the storm and any opposition or bad publicity will blow over'.
However, this latest announcement by Brendan Ogle is a step too far. It is the latest public statement in a litany of unilateral and undemocratic statements. It has left many flabbergasted. Incidentally this letter is dated June 9th, one day before the Dept of Environment's Terms of Reference for Fine Gael's Expert commission on Domestic Public Water Services.
How can one say 'This is good news and to be welcomed? How can we grovel to a Fine Gael minister or take part in any establishment set up, one that is designed to sideline what was an overwhelming Irish majority decision to abolish Irish Water and Water Charges as shown in the General Election?
We call on the movement to tell the Right2Water assumed leadership to step down and another committee elected nationwide, one that would be elected democratically and encompass all opposition groups and parties.
This proposed commission, politically designed by the establishment, must be opposed and shown up for what it is, a hoodwink. It is imperitive we organise our campaign against this and it is done through an open, democratic and united anti water charge organised opposition.
RIGHT2WATER WRITE TO MINISTER (original letter here)
Dear Mr. Coveney,
I write on behalf of the Right2Water campaign in relation to your recent announcement regarding the establishing of an 'Independent Commission' on domestic water charges.
The campaign notes that the current Government is calling for a mature and realistic public debate on the issue and that the 'Independent Commission' should be a key tenet of such a debate.
This is good news and to be welcomed.
Since the enactment of domestic water charges, and indeed beforehand, this debate has been sadly absent notwithstanding the efforts of the Right2Water campaign and others to engage in it.
Instead an ideologically driven policy of attempted privatisation of our water and sanitation service has been embarked upon and important issues such as 'polluter pays', conservation and the Water Framework Directive have been usurped to pursue this agenda to the short, mid and long term detriment of our citizens.
Moreover, an expensive quango has been established and has wasted over EUR1bn of scarce resources setting up a methodology through which householders who use 10% of our water and sanitation services are expected to pay 78% of the cost for these services, in addition to what is already paid through progressive general taxation.
Right2Water are immensely proud that Ireland is the only country in the entire OECD with zero water poverty as a result of this long established payment method and we believe the Government should be similarly proud. Right2Water have been campaigning for a single water and sanitation board funded through progressive general taxation. Furthermore Right2Water are seeking a citizens referendum on the insertion of a new Article 28 Section 4:2.1 in our Constitution to read:
'The Government shall be collectively responsible for the protection, management and maintenance of the public water system. The Government shall ensure in the public interest that this resource remains in public ownership and management.'
Clearly this issue is one that has dominated the political discourse for a considerable time, however, the debate has generated more heat than light and has not been conducted in an honest and balanced manner.
Irish Water and the previous Government are particularly culpable in this regard.
The Right2Water campaign have studied and researched this issue extensively and have met with representatives of the European Commission and water movements in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Bolivia, Canada and the United States.
We have hosted, and attended, International Conferences and gatherings on the issue.
If this 'Independent Commission' is genuinely intended to facilitate this debate then I believe it is essential that Right2Water, as the umbrella campaign for the largest protest movement in the state's history, are invited to sit on the Commission and I am formally requesting that you agree to this measure.