Dublin Says No National Demonstration - Maith Sibh go Léir!

by James Quigley

A Dublin Says No poster advertising a National Demonstration, Dublin, January 21, 2017 - A non-politically aligned people's movement event.

"Shall we weep, moan, rend our garments, cover ourselves with sackcloth and ashes?  Shall we sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of republics?  Shall we cower in the shadows and sing glamorous dirges for the 'Lost Cause', for vanished glories and broken dreams?
Or shall we come out fighting, unbowed, heads high, laughing fools to scorn, rejecting at every turn the moral authority of murderers and thieves to rule our lives or determine our reality or act in our name?  Let's dispense with lamentation - give not a single moment to that emotional indulgence - and get right back to work, more determined than ever to bear down harder, dig deeper and excavate the radioactive nuggets of truth still glowing beneath the slag-heap of ruin."  Chris Floyd, Nov 5, 2004, 'No Ways Tired'.


A national demonstration took place in Dublin yesterday orgainised by Dublin Says No.  According to the organisers it was 'A Non-Politically Aligned People's Movement Event' and they called on the people of Ireland to stand together, united against:  Evictions, Homelessness, Water Charges, Soaring Rents, Repossessions, Health Cuts, Slave Job Schemes, Child Poverty, Hospital Waiting Lists, Patients on Trolleys, Suicide Epidemic, Socail Injustice, Mass Emigration, Income Inequality, Pensioner Poverty, Politicl Pay & Pensions, Corportate Tax Avoidance, TTIP/CETA, Natural Resources Fleeced."  In short a demonstration against austerity measures that have been dished out on the Irish people.
 Mr Paddy Healy described it as "a great first step" and said "Maith Sibh go Léir! Congratulations to the participants and to the organisers of the demonstration to-day.  It was fitting that it took place on the anniversary of the first meeting of the First (all-Ireland) Dáil . The statement read by Pól Ó Scanaill, National Organiser of the 1916 Societies, was truly inspiring!"


Despite realistic criticism by some marchers and comments on facebook about the size of the attendance at the demonstration, credit indeed must go to the organisers for pulling off this feat at all.  Not only was the group of activists operating with scant financial resources but they were up against quite an array of obstacles not least the lack of support from most of the main leftist actors in the present day Irish political scene and some so called progressive forces such as Right2Water Ireland and it's controlling unions. 

There was a comment in Right2Water Ireland's facebook page which summed it up, one I wholeheartedly agree with.  The comment queries why a notice about the demonstration was put up only 2 days prior to the event.  It stated "Mr Ogle you should have gotten behind this protest a lot sooner by advertising on Right2Water's page, all hands on deck for every protest it's the only way we are going to get proper results" 
This event marks a defining moment, in my view,  a concrete example of a division and lack of unity in left/radical politics in Ireland today.  It is one of agenda driven, top down, personality centered protest.   This national demonstration was a strike at bringing back the power of protest to ordinary people, a 'bottom up' approach which, apart from the obvious, seemed to be trying to create an effective, united and non-political aligned people's movement.  

As such this demonstration was successful and we hope it is indeed the first step.
While armani suited Sinn Féin TD's were in town on the very day of the protest, discussing unity in their 'Toward a United Ireland' event, it was ironic that in reality they practiced disunity by not taking part in such a people's national demonstration.  They neither supported it nor did they acknowledge it, not even a little mention in their multifaceted media outlets.
 Finally it is depressing to think but it has to be mentioned and the question asked why the Irish left parties such as People Before Profit and Anti Austerity Alliance were noticeably absent from the demonstration and indeed why they did not support it wholeheartedly and call for support for such a people's power protest.


Chairman of newly selected commission Joe O'Toole should resign says Anti Austerity Alliance

The Anti-Austerity Alliance has called for newly appointed chairman of the Water Commission Joe O’Toole to resign from his position saying that he is clearly biased in favour of water charges and therefore unfit to chair the commission.

Newly selected chairperson of Irish Government's Water Commission Joe O'Toole

Newly selected chairperson of Irish Government's Water Commission Joe O'Toole

In the interview on Newstalk this morning, O’Toole said that ‘central taxation is not enough to pay for it’, that the Commission was a ‘political exercise’, which would look for a solution which would ‘have enough sugar on it to make the medicine go down easily’ after the result of the general election which saw 70% of TDs returned to the Dáil who were either in favour of scrapping water charges or suspending them.

Paul Murphy TD said “After Joe O’Toole’s comments on Newstalk this morning, his appointment and position as the chairman of the Water Commission is now completely untenable.

“The interview which he gave this morning shows that he is clearly in favour of water charges and biased. He clearly rejects the idea of paying for the provision of water through central taxation and is therefore in favour of charges.

“His comments that he would be looking at ‘the work Revenue have done and would draw on that’ fundamentally exposes that for him this is about how you collect water charges rather than whether charging is the correct model.

“This fatally undermines his position when the reason for the setting up of this commission has been that through mass protest, boycott and the elections people have rejected charging for water.

Mick Barry TD said “Joe O’Toole’s previous comments on water charges in the Seanad show that he is unsuitable to chair the Commission.

“As early as 2010, he had welcomed a proposal by Siemens to provide water meters which would be funded through water charges. He is a safe pair of hands for the government and Simon Coveney to deliver the verdict they want on the need for water charges.

“He also said that this was a ‘political exercise’ to find a method of having ‘enough sugar’ on water charges for people to accept them. For us and the vast majority of people, this Commission has no credibility. It has been set up to get the result which the government wants. The Dáil was democratically elected four months ago and has a mandate to get rid of water charges and that is where the decision should be made”

Boycott can take the decision on water charges out of hands of FG & FF

Buncrana Together is  non-aligned anti water charge group.  However, we are and have always been an advocate of non violent protest including mass protest, boycotting water charges, Irish Water and  water meters.  We will support any party that genuinely supports the campaign but we will also criticise any  who try to undermine, deceive, defeat or follow party agenda instead of the interest of the campaign and in turn the people.     

The above Anti Austerity Alliance press release was in response to ongoing negotiations  between Fine Gael  and Fianna Fail parties to form a government.  These negotiations  have been dragging on now since the Jan 29th Irish general election.  The main sticking point, or so we are led to believe' is Irish Water and 'Water Charges'.  Fine Gael is the major party in the outgoing government and won the majority of seats in this years elections.  They are responsible for introducing Irish Water and 'Water Charges.  Fianna Fail received the second highest number of seats, having recovered from near obscurity, by,  some would say,  promising to abolish Irish Water and 'Water Charges', clear policy principles in their manifesto.

The article below is from RTE, RTE April 27, 2016,  reports on the present stance of the negotiations.  It must be said that there has been no official statement of agreement to datebut everything indicates the outcome which RTE is giving.    This outcome it must be said  would  seem to be a total  capitulation by Fianna Fail, a total reversal of their manifesto promises.  It would also be in opposition to what the majority of the county voted for. 


Bruton: Water charges will be suspended under any deal

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton has confirmed that there will be a temporary suspension of water charges under a proposed deal with Fianna Fáil to form a minority government.

Richard Bruton said Fine Gael did not win the election so it cannot impose its policy on the Dáil

Richard Bruton said Fine Gael did not win the election so it cannot impose its policy on the Dáil


He also said if charges did not return then those who have paid will have to be fully reimbursed. 

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil negotiating teams are due to resume talks later today.

The first strand of their proposal is to retain Irish Water but an external advisory board will be set up to improve its transparency, accountability and also how it works.

Under the plan, the board would report to the Oireachtas.

On water charges, it is suggested that an independent commission would look at the overall funding model and conservation matters.

Its recommendations would then be referred to an Oireachtas committee but it would not be bound by the commission's proposals.

In turn the committee could make its own proposals which the Dáil would then vote on.

As the commission and committee examine the issue, it is proposed that water charges would be suspended for nine months though there is the possibility of this being extended.

The technical details still have to be finalised and the proposal has not yet been formally agreed.

Fine Gael to 'defend to the hilt' people who paid charges

Mr Bruton said Fine Gael will "defend to the hilt people" who have paid water charges.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said there could be no question of people being left at a loss if a decision were taken in the future to abolish water charges.

If water charges are to be scrapped, then people who have already paid their bills will have to get their money back, he said.

In the event that charges continue in the future, he said that those who were in default will have their outstanding bills pursued.

Mr Bruton said Fine Gael did not win the election so it cannot impose its policy on the Dáil.

He said the bigger picture was that a government needed to be formed to deal with pressing issues and it could not be a government that will fall at the first hurdle.

Great progress has been made in talks, he said, but added that a lot of work remains to be done and it still has to be put to independents.

Also speaking on the programme, Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher said he could not put a time frame on how long charges will be suspended for.

He added that establishing a commission would finally get Irish Water and the "consistent running sore in Irish politics" back into the parliamentary process where there can be accountability in the Dáil.

Those who paid the charges, he said, should get their money back if they are scrapped.

Both parliamentary parties will have their say; Fine Gael will meet later today or possibly tomorrow while Fianna Fáil has not yet confirmed when it will meet.

In the Dáil chamber, all parties and independents will get an opportunity to discuss water charges as a debate on the issue will take place this afternoon.

However, Sinn Féin has argued for a vote on the matter.