​Irish water struggle: Thousands to march against ‘ideologically-driven’ water charges

(A still from Ruptly video)

(A still from Ruptly video)

Thousands of anti-austerity campaigners are expected to pulse through the streets of Dublin on Saturday in protest against the Irish government’s controversial water charges. They warn the charges are an “ideologically-driven tax” that must be abolished.

The water tax forms part
of the Irish government’s wider debt re-payment plan in the wake
of a crippling bank bailout that cost Irish taxpayers over €64

Thousands are expected to gather in central Dublin to voice their
opposition to what they say is double taxation imposed on a
nation strangulated by debt. Three separate marches, highlighting
the impact of austerity, are planned for Saturday

Protesters will set out from Dublin’s Connolly Station, Merrion
Square and Heuston Station and convene in a mass gathering at 1pm
on the capital’s O’Connell Street.

READ MORE: Austerity tax: Tens of thousands
protest against ‘regressive’ Irish govt water charges

The national demonstration has been organized by Right2Water
Ireland, a nationwide collective of activists, community groups,
political parties, and trade unionists.

The campaign argues the provision of adequately treated water and
sanitation is a vital public service, and a fundamental human
right recognized by the United Nations (UN). It is calling for
the Irish government to legislate accordingly, and abolish its
plans to enforce water charges on Irish citizens.

Speaking to RT, Unite trade union official and Right2Water Ireland
co-coordinator Brendan
Ogle said the Irish
“will not put up with this
ideologically driven extra tax.”

He said the Irish government is unwilling to publicly acknowledge
growing opposition to the water charges, but is
“terrified” behind closed doors.

Ogle insisted “the majority of the population will refuse to
pay this tax, which is now law.”

“They thought they had gotten away with socializing €65bn of
private debt, with a vicious five year austerity agenda.

For five years those
events caused nothing less than a national collective trauma. But
now the Irish people have had enough and the government know

MORE: Dublin gridlocked as 50,000 Irish protesters oppose
‘Ministry of Thirst’ water charges

As part of its water taxation policy, the Irish government set up
semi-state firm Irish Water in July 2013. The company is responsible for
developing Ireland’s water infrastructure and billing citizens
for water usage.

Against a backdrop of
widespread poverty and a tidal wave of repossession orders
surging through Irish courts, the firm has launched a €650,000
advertising campaign to inform Irish citizens on its
company has long been the subject of criticism, and has been
marred by multiple controversies since its founding.

Ogle said the Irish
government’s planned water charges are an austerity tax
“by the
IMF in a memorandum of understanding for the so called ‘bail out’
in 2009.”

He described Irish Water as “the economics of Milton Friedman
encapsulated in one arrogant, bullying inept
He said
the firm was unequivocally
established “as a metered single utility to be
privatized by a future government.”

Approximately 1.5 million households are expected to receive
their first bills under the water charges scheme in April 2015.
The move has proved
hugely unpopular, and has been described by campaigners as the
most contentious austerity measure imposed on Irish citizens
since Ireland’s 2008 economic crash.

It has also spawned a vibrant mass movement in its wake.
Anti-water charges activists say the movement is the largest
“anti-plutocratic” wave of protest in modern Irish

Reflecting on rising dissent in Ireland, Ogle said: “Our
politics is changing with the breakdown of the old political
order. What will replace it, and how average or otherwise it will
be remains to be seen.”

“The protests in Ireland are peaceful and it is that type of
protest and its broad appeal, which has made this campaign the
greatest mass mobilization campaign on a single issue in our
state’s 92 year history.”

READ MORE: Austerity Ireland: Hundreds to protest
national broadcaster’s ‘biased reporting’

The Right2Water campaign has launched an official petition
calling on the Irish government to scrap its proposed water
charges, and respect its citizens’ human right to access water.

The Irish government,
however, says it will not alter or renege upon its water charges
policy. It maintains the water charges will facilitate the
creation of much needed funds for the development of the state’s
water infrastructure.

Ogle was critical of Ireland’s mainstream media, warning it
bolsters the interests of a neoliberal elite.

“Ireland’s mainstream media cheerlead the light touch
regulation that wrecked our economy,”
he said.

“Then they cheerlead the policy of austerity and debt
socialization that we have suffered from since
They understand
one economic orthodoxy only – neoliberalism – and are not
encouraged by their owners or editorial lines to explore other
options with an open mind.”

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