Undeniable proof - the Irish Anti Water Charges Movement was sold out, betrayed by R2W Unions and TDs

By Enda Craig

There is undeniable proof that the Irish people were sold out and betrayed by R2W Unions and TDs incl. Sinn Féin, PBP, Solidarity, Ind4Change, Social Democrats on the Water Charges issue.

The RTE video of the 6th of April 2017 on the Dáil media plinth shows R2W TDs one after the other giving victory speeches. Deputy Eoin O'Broin states that indeed there is '“COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT” with the contents of the Oireachtas Committee on Water Charges report and they will now meet with the rest of the Committee in the dail in the afternoon to formally adopt it.

It transpired at that meeting Simon Coveney announced he had written to the chairman of the committee the previous night stating that Fine Gael would not accept the draft report because an agreement on metering that they made with Fianna Fáil, one week previously, did not appear in the report.

It is important to point out that the issue involved only ‘METERING’ and not ‘Charges For Excessive Use’ or any other clause including acceptance of Irish Water, agreed by all Committee members as stated in the draft report. It was this single issue on metering that R2W would eventually use to distance itself from the eventual water legislation.

It is logical to assume that accepting the principle of ‘Excessive Use Charge’ that that would entail metering the amount of water used. Note that the ‘Excessive Use Charge’ principle was introduced as early as 2015 in Brussels by rapporteur Lynn Boylan supported by R2W, see this article Here.


The Oireachtas Committee spent the next week addressing the metering changes and eventually the wording was changed to reflect the FG/FF agreement as mentioned by Simon Coveney in his letter.

The Committee’s Final Report on Domestic Water Charges was passed on 11th of April 2017 by a majority of 13 to 7. 5 R2W TD'S, 1 Green Party Senator and 1 Labour Party Senator voted against.

The only difference in the the Draft Confidential Report that the R2W agreed with and Final Report related to the change in wording on metering only. It did not include any rejection of ‘Charges For Excessive Use’ by the R2W TD's. It is critically important to understand that the part in the report that was modified had to do with a disagreement on metering details between FG and FF. and not the any agreed charging regime.

It seems none of the committee members had any problem with the ‘Charges For Excessive Use’ as written in the Draft Report on the 6th of April and agreed to again in the final report on the 11th of April. The reason R2W TD's voted against the final report had to do with the modified details on metering alone.


This final Oireachtas Committee’s Report on Domestic Water Charges, including the principle of charging for excessive use, became the official position of the Government and this eventually became part of the Water Services Act 2017 that passed into legislation in Sept 2017.

R2W TDs, of course objected to the Bill. However, in my view, this was in truth a 'face saving ' exercise. By agreeing to ' Charges For Excessive Use ' the details on metering was a side show allowing them to jump up and down in false protest. The harm was already done and they had a major part in it.

The Water Services Act was now included in the new River Basin Management Plan as the Irish Govt's official position on the new Domestic Water Charges for Ireland and this was forwarded to Brussels for approval.

In a nutshell, R2W and affiliated TD's, by agreeing to commodify domestic water usage through the ‘Charges for Excessive Use’ principle, have facilitated the Government in their long term plan to activate Articles 102-106 of the Lisbon Treaty ( signed up to in 2009 ) that insists that all member states must open up to competition any goods/ services that are available on the open market at unit price ( e.g cost per litre of water ). This will align Ireland with the EU Single Market opening up domestic water charging to competition laws. This will in turn do away with our precious 9.4 Domestic Water Exemption.

R2W Unions and the R2W TD's should never have agreed to this. They should have ignored completely the Government signing up to the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ and they should have fought tooth and nail to retain the 9.4 Exemption.

Instead they handed the Government water charges and privatisation on a plate. Perhaps this is the price you pay as advocates of the EU and the Single Market.

R2W have attempted to explain their shameful decision when they published the following statement;


"Much criticism has been made of a number of TD’s who support Right2Water declaring a victory on the plinth of the Dail on 5th April 2017. At that particular time, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Water had agreed a draft report stating that charges were to be abolished, mandatory metering would end and the referendum to enshrine public ownership of our water supply would take place. Had that Report been adopted, it would indeed have been a massive victory for everyone who had campaigned against water charges. Instead, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael conspired to change the report outside of committee hearings, a scandal in itself, undermining the democratic processes of the Oireachtas, and not for the first time. In the same week, Simon Coveney, the Minister responsible for water, issued threats to the committee when he wrote to the Chair "

The fact of the matter is FF and FG conspired to change the report on metering but nothing to do with the core part of the report which included the Charges For Excessive Use and acceptance of Irish Water. The statement was an example of a premeditated manipulation of the truth by R2W. People should not allow them or affiliated TD's to continue to treat them as fools. If we are to progress and counter the status quo EU austerity measures then any opposition must embrace honesty, democracy and a little bit of humility. Without this the often cacaphony of ‘Unity’ is false.

I have shown beyond doubt that the R2W TD's sold out the people and the Irish Water Charges Movement by agreeing the ’ Excessive Use Charge’ principle. The metering issue between FG/FF was and is still being used as a smokescreen to hide a shameful truth. R2W conspired behind the backs of the movement by not being upfront and honest and were complicit for whatever reason in not only undermining our 3 core principles 1. No Water Charges 2. No Metering and 3. No Irish Water company.

In my view they quite rightly denigrated Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for their political shenanigans but it is shameful that they deny their own culpability.


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.


Final FOI Appeal Turned Down by Commissioner and Sinn Féin Economical with the Truth about the Oireachtas Water Committee.

by James Quigley

Last month a senior officer from the Office of the Information Commissioner turned down my third and final appeal against the decision to refuse access to all records, not in the public domain, of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services. In all there were some thirty secret sessions of the water Committee held between January to April 2017.  It now looks like we will never know what went on behind those closed doors.

The original request was interested in the management of the committee itself, how decisions were finalised and who voted for what. In particular the request highlighted the session of February 15th .  In that session the Water Framework Directive and it’s all important 9.4 paragraph that dealt with Ireland’s Water Charges Exemption was discussed at length.  For some inexplicable reason, that was the last we heard about the 9.4 Exemption and at the conclusion of the Committee's business in April 2017 there was not a mention of it in any final report.

The Constitution, transparency and accountability
It seems openness, transparency and accountability of Dáil Éireann and it's Committees are hidden in confidentiality and protected by Article 15.10 of the Constitution. The following is a section of the  Commissioner’s decision.  It can be be read in full HERE:

Section from Commissioners decision.

Section from Commissioners decision.

That’s the bureaucrats but what about those on our side?

I can understand establishment politicians and officials hiding behind bureaucratic excuses.  After all we  let them do it and keep voting them into office.  But you might think that you would get answers from those that were supposedly representing  the anti Water Charges side.  Sadly in my experience this has not been the case. The R2W leadership and their representatives on that establishment Oireachtas Committee including Sinn Féin, Solidarity, PBP and Independents have not addressed any of the concerns from dejected anti Water Charges campaigners.

Some basic questions that have not been answered are: 1) why there was no mention of the 9.4 Exemption in the report which they applauded on April 6, 2017?   2) why did they accept  Irish Water Ltd?  3) why did  they accept the principle of charging for excessive and the use of metering?

After repeated inquiries Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Féin TD, eventually posted this answer on Facebook:

Sinn Féin and the other Right2Water TDs argued very strongly in the Water Committee for the retention of the exemption contained in the Water Services Directive. Sinn Féin commissioned a Senior Council legal opinion on the issue, tabled the opinion at the Committee and challenged the European Commission on the issue when they came to the committee. Unfortunately as the final report to the committee did not commit to the full abolition of water charges Sinn Féin and the other Right2Water TDs opposed the final report. The Right2Water movement made a formal submission to the Governments River Basin Management Plan consultation which explicitly called on the Government to invoke 9.4 in their revised plan. That is now a matter for the Government which has yet to publish their final plan to be submitted to the European Commission.″

This is such a typical stock political answer.  It  contains enough truths to make it seem plausible but in substance the answer does not address the the most important question. I have watched the full February debate, well what was available to the public that is, and can safely say that the Senior Counsels, representing both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil by the way, indeed made very convincing arguments for the retention of the 9.4 Exemption.  So much so that one would have thought the 9.4 argument should have been included in any final report.  It was not and it was never even mentioned after February 15th.

I am convinced that the Right2Water representatives did not put up much of an argument themselves and at the end of the day they must not have believed the Senior Counsels themselves because they did not insist that the 9.4 be part of any final report.

See full video: Right2Water TD's at Leinster House claim 'Victory' Apr 5th 2017
                       https://oireachtas.heanet.ie/mp4/cr4/latest/cr4_20170215.mp4
                       Clouds of suspicion over omission of 9.4 Exemption in Oireachtas Water Committee report