· Campaign Continues: Bills will be met by a major boycott
· Water charges & attempts to intimidate with penalties will be a massive issue in lead into General election
At a press conference today, We Won’t Pay – the non-payment campaign, said that no concessions contained in the Government’s Package would quell the movement against the water charges.
Joe Higgins TD said “In the last month the government has been sent a clear message by the historic movement of ordinary people against water charges. They are now reeling in panic as they scramble to get a package.
“According to media reports, they will lower the cost through the use of a tax concession, cap the costs for 4 years and push the beginning of billing back until January. But these measures and the axing of bonuses at Irish Water miss the point of the protests, the essence of which was that people are opposed to water charges in any form.
“There is no carrot big enough to quell the anger of vast parts of the population for whom water charges are the last straw after 6 years of vicious austerity. The We Won’t Pay Campaign will organise for a national boycott of this charge when it finally arrives. “
Ruth Coppinger TD said “Reports have mentioned that the government are to look at measures to fine or gain an attachment order against people who do not pay the water charge. This will ignite further anger in people. Through the mass protests and self-organisation of communities people have realised their power. Should the government try to launch an attack on those who boycott the charge they will be met with an unprecedented backlash of mass protests and political pressure. This would all take place in the lead in to the General Election and water charges will be a central issue here with Fine Gael and especially Labour being politically decimated at the polls.
Paul Murphy TD said “The concessions which the government have offered today will be worth nothing in a couple of years. They are temporary and are an undemocratic manoeuvre to try to get the charge accepted and paid but then they will be ratcheted up. They are a transparent manoeuvre to try and reduce the pressure of mass opposition in the context of the upcoming General Election. The Government are on the back foot but have not yet been defeated. The first bills won’t arrive for 5 months, in that time the We Won’t Pay campaign will organise communities for a mass boycott this charge with continued, huge pressure on the Government.
“The government and the media have made an extensive effort over the last few days to demonise and divide the opposition to water charges after the protests on Saturday. They have attempted to shut down discussion on what happened in west Tallaght and turn it into a simple equation of condemn or be condemned.
“The protest on Saturday was a peaceful protest. It was organised by the community. The Taoiseach was correct when he said that ‘It wasn’t just about water charges’, Jobstown and communities like Jobstown have been hammered through austerity measures which have been introduced by this government. They have been hit with cuts to public services, mass unemployment, the property tax, the lack of housing, cuts to children’s allowance, cuts to the lone parent family payment, rises in college fees, and a lack of access to services “There was no violence at the protest. There was a sit-down protest around the Minister’s car. While there was some banging on the Minister’s car, at no point was there a credible threat to her. There is clear video evidence that the graduates were clapped as they left once it was realised that they were graduates and not the Minister. The main chant that was directed at the Minister was ‘traitor’, though in a large crowd others may have shouted derogatory terms which we do not condone.”
Rose Sinclair-Doyle and Councillor Brian Leech who are both residents of Jobstown and attended the protest have both condemned the how the protest and the area have been demonised in the media. Rose said “The protest on Saturday was peaceful. Across the country people have been put in terrible situations because of austerity. The fact that Joan Burton’s car was parked against a food bank beside An Cosan is testament to the effects of austerity in this community. And now they are hitting us with a water charge. The eggs which were thrown were by people who were not part of the protest. Myself and others appealed to them to stop as it was a peaceful protest. “