“...we declare that the nation’s sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the Nation, but to all its material possessions, the Nations soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the Nation...”
Democratic Programme of the First Dáil 1919
When the women and men of the first Dáil Éireann adopted the Democratic Programme quoted above they could not have foreseen the rise of transnational corporations whose annual turnovers would dwarf the gross national product’s of all but the wealthiest of the world’s countries. Nor could they have foreseen how some of those same transnationals would trawl the earth for its natural resources with little concern for the wellbeing of the people or the environment of their target countries.
They did, however, understand the inherently predatory and anti-social nature of capitalism. They sought from the earliest days of the new thirty-two county Irish Republic to uphold the right of the people of Ireland to be the primary beneficiaries of the natural resources of Ireland.
éirígí believes this right to be inalienable and to be as relevant today as it was ninety years ago when the Democratic Programme was unanimously adopted by the first Dáil.
In the Ireland of 2008 an ever increasing portion of the ‘wealth and the wealth producing processes within the Nation’ are being concentrated in the hands of an ever smaller portion of the population. Ireland, both north and south, now ranks as one of the most unequal societies in the so-called ‘developed’ world.
éirígí launched its campaign for the nationalisation of Ireland’s natural resources in the summer of 2006. Named ‘We Only Want the Earth’ the campaign has primarily focused on the Dublin government’s oil and gas giveaway in the Twenty-Six counties and the London government’s attempts to introduce domestic water charges in the Six Counties.
‘We Only Want the Earth’ has seen éirígí activists take part in countless public protests and meetings, civil disobedience and non-violent direct actions. Despite the verbal threats, physical assaults, arrests and spurious legal proceedings that have resulted, éirígí activists will continue to campaign for public control of Ireland’s natural resources.
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Water is chief among the fundamentals necessary for all life on planet Earth. More than light, food or shelter humans cannot survive without water for more than a short number of days.
The development of human society has been intrinsically linked with the provision of abundant, high-quality water supplies. From Roman times the provision of a public water services has been seen as a basic requirement of a ‘civilised’ society.
However, in the world of neo-liberal capitalism, water is just another commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. Throughout the world private capital are replacing government as the provider of this most basic of services.
Recent years have seen attempts to introduce ‘stand-alone’ water charges in both the Six and Twenty-Six Counties. The Fine Gael/Labour coalition have announced plans in install meters in every house in the twenty six counties and to re-introduce water charges once more. Such charges are part of a broader strategy of ‘creeping privatisation’ which will ultimately lead to the imposition of domestic water charges and the privatisation of all the water services. In such a scenario the role of the state will be reduced to that of a ‘regulator’.
éirígí is calling for:
- The immediate shelving of plans for the introduction of ‘stand alone’ domestic water charges.
- The exemption of schools and other essential service providers from the payment of water charges.
- State investment in the upgrading of water distribution networks to reduce the levels of water lost through wastage and leaks.
- State investment in a major education programme to encourage end-users to practise water preservation.