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.


Cllr Brendan Young criticises Irish Water's threats and calls for boycott intensification

Brendan Young, councillor for Kildare North, calls for the boycott campaign against Irish Water to be stepped up.  His statement is in response to Irish Water's recent legal threat that water charges can not be abolished.  He sees this as a last ditch effort to keep Irish Water alive by 'undemocratic legalistic means'.

Brendan Young on the left

Brendan Young on the left

Brendan Young's Statement Mar 30, 2016

"Recent reports are saying that neither water charges nor Irish Water can be abolished because the EU says so – according to the opinion of two barristers who were undoubtedly paid a lot of money by Ervia (IW parent company) to give their opinion.  My opinion is that IW management know that there is a very real prospect of their jobs going down the plug hole. This is a last-ditch attempt to keep IW alive – undoubtedly with the support of FG – by undemocratic legalistic means: 70% of the recently-elected TD's said they oppose this water charge.

Whatever the opinion of barristers, the political reality is that prior to the election nearly 50% were not paying – and that number has increased, perhaps close to 60%. People who did not pay are standing firm; and those who did pay are stopping: why throw more money away if the charge is being scrapped?

It is non-payment that has made water charges a political issue. If a FG government tries to retain the charge and gives IW the green light next Spring to try to take up to 700,000 non-payers to court, individually, to get attachment to earnings, there will be uproar and the government could fall over it.  FG and FF know this. FF also know that if they go back on their promise to postpone the charge, or support court cases to enforce it, they would be hammered at a time when they are jockeying with FG to be the the dominant party of the rich while simultaneously trying to compete for working class support against SF and the Left.

So FF want to diffuse the non-payment movement and are calling for people to pay while the charge remains in place. They are also saying they are not legally bound to impose the charge and will postpone it. They may be hoping that the movement will dissipate and the charge can be revived in a few years' time.

We cannot rely on FF to abolish water charges. Nor should we entrust the decision on how to manage our water system to an 'independent commission' as proposed by SF's Eoin O'Broin. Who would establish such a commission? What does 'independent' mean in this instance?

Once the charge has been dropped and there is a commitment to fund water from direct taxation we can start discussing how to co-ordinate the upgrade and management of the service. My response to comments on the EU's Water Directive is this: there is no 'established', accepted procedure for charging for water in Ireland; and I reject the EU's regressive proposal of individually charging for essential services such as water – the trajectory of which is privatisation of profitable parts (which TTIP would make much worse).

IW was set up to charge domestic users for water – one of the bank-bailout charges. It has to go. The FF plan to postpone this charge and re-introduce something similar in a few years is unacceptable. The only way to ensure that it's abolished is to make it unworkable by not paying. In the short term, we need to begin planning the organisation of a big demonstration in support of non-payment and abolition before the discussions on the formation of a government are concluded."

Bruncrana Together
We asked Brendan to elaborate on what he meant by 'green light next Spring to try to take up to 700,000 non-payers to court' and about levies this year.  He replied

"A penalty of €60 for a multi person household and €30 for a single person household applies after a year of non payment. IW will presumably add this to outstanding bills. No court case is needed to levy the penalty. Anyone who is confident about not paying, or those who think it will be abolished, are likely to ignore the penalty. But you are correct about the timing and if the charge still exists in three months time a big demo needs to be organised against the penalties.

The crunch really comes when people owe €500 - at the end of 2016 - and IW have to decide whether or not to attempt to get attachment orders through the courts. That will determine whether IW can survive, assuming it survives til then. If non payment remains around 50% IW can't survive, and everybody knows this. So sustaining non payment is vital to keeping pressure on FF and FG. Both are susceptible to pressure because of the instability of whatever administration takes office. But if people pay, that pressure will be much reduced."


Boycott four key points - Paul Murphy responds to Irish Water's late payment messages

Paul Murphy, Anti Austerity Alliance TD, has responded to late payment messages from Irish Water and argues against misinformation and rumours.

 

Irish Water's text message

Irish Water's text message

Irish Water is sending these out at a fierce rate now. Who do you think is paying the bill for all these threatening texts?

Having failed to get more than 50% to pay the water charges, with no mechanism to take the money off people, they are reduced to fear, fear and more fear. Texts, phone calls, threatening letters – it’s all they have to persuade people to pay.

We have to get the message out – don’t panic and don’t pay.

Four key pieces of information:

1. Yes, in July 2016 if water charges still exist, they will add an extra €30 or €60 as a penalty to your bill if you haven’t paid. But they can’t get it off you anymore than they could get the almost €200 that most people owe now!

2. They can’t deduct water charges from wages, social welfare or pensions. Despite all the scaremongering out there, and despite its repetition by some people who oppose water charges but who don’t support the boycott, they cannot take it off us.

3. The only thing they can do is when people owe €500, they could start a court process, which involves two court cases, which eventually could result in an attachment order. But the court services themselves have said they would be completely clogged up if they go down that road. If we stick together and don’t pay, this court action can’t break non-payment, like it couldn’t break it in the 1990s, when non-payment won.

4. If water charges remain, they will jump to an average of €500 per family when the cap is lifted in 2019. An average adult (based on using 148 litres per day, which is a Department of Environment figure) will owe €200 a year. Just look at the green bin charges – we know if they get it in, it will only go up and our water will be privatised.