Below is a letter which was published in this weeks edition of the Leitrim Observer (June 15). The letter, from éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey, was a reply to an editorial in the paper the previous week relating to the planned introduction of domestic water charges.
Please allow me reply to your editorial relating to the imminent introduction of water charges by Fine Gael and Labour.
You say that “there is a great deal of water wastage in this country”. You add that “this charge will hopefully tackle the whole issue of water conservation and see a pro-active attitude towards water leakage and burst pipes”.
The vast majority of water wastage has absolutely nothing to do with domestic households, the people who will pay this new charge. Burst pipes, water leakage and industrial usage account for the vast majority of water wastage. For a fraction of the hundreds of millions they are to spend having water meters installed in every household, they could upgrade the water infrastructure, eradicating leaks and accompanying wastage.
Fine Gael and Labour are using the fig-leaf of “water conservation” as a cover to introduce a new tax, which will impact hardest once more on social welfare recipients and low and middle income earners. It is also the first step towards privatising another essential public service, the domestic water supply.
And while talk of waivers for the less well off is occasionally mentioned, this is an attempt to deflect opposition from this double tax. Whether or not there is a waiver when water charges are introduced, you can be sure it wont remain in place too long. Remember the waivers with refuse charges? They are now a thing of the past, as the millionaire pays the same amount to get rid of his rubbish as the poorest family does.
The focus of all these cutbacks are the less well off not the wealthy. So while the government target Joint Labour Committee's to cut wages and conditions for low paid workers, and while carers and welfare recipients have endured cut after cut driving tens of thousands into poverty, there is no mention of targetting the rich. No mention of a 'wealth tax' or of nationalising our natural resources, moves that would generate hundreds of billions of euro's for the public purse.
We did not create the crisis and should not pay for it, either through water charges or other wage or welfare cuts. It is not our debt or the debt of this state. It is the private gambling debts of a number of greedy bankers and developers.
If the government proceed with their plans éirígí will, as part of the No Water Tax campaign, play its part in building a vigorous campaign of opposition to defeat this tax and ensure the domestic water supply remains in public hands.