Our Water meeting with Senior Counsel

Article by James Quigley

                                                                                                                                                              Insert; Matthias Kelly, Q.C.S.C

                                                                                                                                                              Insert; Matthias Kelly, Q.C.S.C

For the past few weeks Buncrana Together hasn’t been too active.  It is due, in my opinion, to a big dose of despondency, that more than likely is terminal.  We are really worn down by the treachery of the leadership in R2W / Sinn Fein, battered by the verbal slings and arrows of their devoted followers and also by what seems to be a futile exercise, trying to awaken some kind of critical thinking not only in the general public but also in Ireland’s so called progressive thinkers.

What criticisms or analysis has there been, for example,  of the massive grassroots movement which at one time was so strong that the majority of Irish households refused to accept the establishment of Irish Water, pay water charges and allow metering? This opposition was so widespread that it was like a revolution,  instrumental in forcing a change of government and abolishing newly introduced legislation. It stopped in it’s tracks the establishment’s multi billion Euro push to privatise water, setting up a quasi private water company, introducing itemised billing of domestic water and the role out of smart water meters.

What analysis was there when after removing the sugar coating, it looks like all that we were fighting against has now been realised? Irish Water is  very much entrenched in minds and legislation. It will shortly role out itemised billing and continue it’s metering programme and little by little the sprinkling of a sugar coating  will be reduced  until all that was envisage by the establishment will be fulfilled.

After years of effort and struggle by the people of Ireland, there wasn’t even a whimper when the R2W affiliated trade unions and politicians joined up with the Fianna Fail and Fine Gael’s 2016 ‘Programme for Government’ deal in the form of the Expert Water Commission and the Oireachtas Water Committee.

Prior to and during that political duplicity all the R2W leadership and politicians, accepted the principle of a single water company, excessive use charges and metering and enabled the movement’s initiative and momentum to be hijacked and ring-fenced in a long drawn out political process.  

No matter their various agendas it was like they got a whiff of the limelight and saw the potential for political publicity.  The result was they hijacked the movement, wrested it from the people of Ireland and controlled it within their political domain.  From that day on, the day of capitulation, the revolution or potential for political change was nullified. 

Our Water
In our articles in Buncrana Together we have produced a lot of evidence to back up our claims for those willing to read. Evidence that we, as non professional,  were able to gather. However, it was the many unanswered questions together with a lack of official information, (not subject to the Freedom of Information Act), that led us recently to form an ad-hoc group which we called ‘Our Water’,  with the aim was to try get some clarity and explore avenues that we could take, legal or otherwise.  Our main emphasis was on a legal loophole i.e Ireland’s Established Practice, incorporated in Section 9.4 of the Water Framework Directive, and Ireland’s second River Basin Management Plan which was presented to Brussels in April this year. . Both of which received little attention from R2W and the politicians.

Our Water concluded that it needed unbiased legal advice and find out definitively whether there was any legal grounds that we could follow.  Having found out that this was going to be costly we set up a GoFundMe campaign and within two weeks we collected €2500 and arranged a meeting with Matthias Kelly SC in Dublin on 17/05/2018. Our Water representatives at the meeting were James Quigley, Mark mcAuley, Brendan Kelly and Michael Mooney.

Below is a pdf file of the meeting between Our Group and Matthias Kelly Q.C.S.C in the form of questions and answers. (SC denotes Senior Counsel). It is informative but somewhat alarming and unfortunately it is quite long.

Socialist Party Scotland support for JobstownNotGuilty Campaign

During the March Against Racism demo in Georges Square, Glasgow, 18th March,  2017,  a member of the Socialist Party Scotland called for support and solidarity for the Jobstown protesters charged with 'false imprisonment' of Joan Burton, an Irish Labour Party TD and member of the coalition government in 2014.


18 adults are awaiting trial - starting on the 24th April 2017 - and facing serious prison sentences if convicted. 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.

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

Paul Murphy in Brussels canvassing support for Jobstown Protesters

Paul Murphy in Brussels speaking to The European United Left/Nordic Green Left,  The GUE/NGL is a Confederal Political Group in the European Parliament and consists of 52 MEPs from 12 Member States

Paul Murphy in Brussels speaking to The European United Left/Nordic Green Left,  The GUE/NGL is a Confederal Political Group in the European Parliament and consists of 52 MEPs from 12 Member States

If for some strange reason you might not be acquainted with the JobstownNotGuilty case in Ireland, you can read details here 'Protesting is not a crime -Jobstown protesters' court case looming' .  

At home in Ireland you would imagine most people know about the Jobstown case and all the progressive forces are behind it giving their full support. 

However,  a cursory glance at web pages, facebook and twitter accounts of trade unions, left wing parties, R2W etc. you get the impression that the case is not rated highly. 

In fact there is a noticeable dearth of support.  This lack of home support is not only depressing, it is, in our view, symptomatic of agenda driven,  competitive politics of self interested, insular trade unions and political parties in Ireland today.  

Here we have a high profile case that the defense called “a recipe for totalitarianism" where a 17 year old youth has already been convicted of false imprisonment and it is only weeks until seven more protesters will be in the dock, a case about the right of assembly attacked by the full force of the State , the right to protest being criminalised, a case where a socialist TD and others were lifted in dawn raids and are now facing up to seven years in prison.

Where is the condemnation and solidarity? 


Support abroad

Belgium train drivers,   

Belgium train drivers,


Pual Murphy, AAA TD, one of the #jobstownnotguilty accused,  was in Brussels last Wednesday speaking to @GUENGL , a European United Left group.  He wscanvassing support for the Jobstown case due to restart on 24th Aprilthis year.  

Mr Murphy, on his facebook page,  speaking about meeting MEPs said " I've already spoken with many and they're shocked that protesters are facing false imprisonment charges and understand it is clearly a threat to the right to protest."

They may very well be shocked but what about home support.  If we can't fight for our own rights how can we expect others to do it for us.

Home support

Trade Union & Socialist Coalition, TUSC, conference, England supporting JobstownNotGuilty

Trade Union & Socialist Coalition, TUSC, conference, England supporting JobstownNotGuilty

Some of the groups that have declared their support on JobstownNotGuilty's twitter or facebook pages, as far as we can see, aree.g Éirigí, Socialist Party, FINGALOL, R2WKillarney, SwordsSaysNoPopulist Watch Irl, Not4ur Entertainment,  construction branch of Unite trade union and of course all the many individual messages of support.

Unite Construction branch donation

Unite Construction branch donation

However, we would like to be proved wrong and invite comments or go to JobstownNotGuilty pages and pledge your support.  Highlight the case in your own pages and also attend the forthcoming protests in Dublin