Learn the lessons of the Anti-water charges campaign

by Owen Curran,

Owen is a Donegal anti water charges campaigner from Gortahork who has been active over the past few years.  Here he voices his concerns over what appeared to be premature celebrations of victory in the campaign last week.

Owen Curran speaking at a protestAn Phríomhshráid, An Fál Carrach Dún na nGall,  8 Jan 2012

Owen Curran speaking at a protestAn Phríomhshráid, An Fál Carrach Dún na nGall,  8 Jan 2012

As an anti-water charges campaigner who has been active over the past few years , I feel I must voice my concerns over what appears to be the premature celebrations of victory in this campaign .

We had the spectacle of opposition T.Ds coming to the Dail plinth- Declaring victory 3 days before an organized march that activists all over the country including in Donegal were working hard to maximise the attendance for . The resulting attendance of approx.40,000 was healthy , however many more people felt there was no need to travel as the 'victory' was already achieved.

To come out declaring victory ahead of the actual goals of our campaign being achieved ie. the legislative abolition of water charges .A referendum on the ownership of water ,and an end to the metering programme is definitely premature and also confusing for many people. We seem to be left waiting on what F.F. are prepared to do , which is ironic to say the least considering it was them who first proposed the introduction of water charges in December 2010,although it is a testament to the strength of this movement that F.F.have been pressured into now opposing water charges .

If and when the charges are actually abolished there will be, no doubt, more' jockying for position' among politicians , parties and groups  to claim credit . Yes, politicians and unions have played their part. The unions affiliated to Right2Water certainly put 'their money where there mouths were' by funding the big events of the campaign. 

It has to be pointed out though that neither politicians or unions started this campaign nor do they 'own ' it . The so-called 'ordinary people' stood against water charges from their introduction , we did not wait around until politicians came to direct and lead us . We did not wait until we heard some politician 'call' on us not to pay to decide we would withhold payment . And we dont need anyone jostling themselves to the front of the movement at this stage as to look as if they have been leading the way all along , therefore deeming themselves worthy of a vote come election time .

What we do need is a coming together of those willing to learn the lessons of the Anti-water charges campaign and to take those lessons forward to build a united movement that will be fit and willing to tackle the issues of Health , Housing , the decline of our communities in an organised manner , to name just a few .

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.