The Irish government's attempt to introduce domestic water charges in Ireland is not going well. In fact, for them it's been a disaster because it's sparked off a huge upsurge in working class self organisation and direct action. Last Saturday 17th Sept, saw thousands of anti-water charges campaigners flooding the streets of Dublin o to again voice their opposition to Irish Water & water charges and as a show of strength for the movement.
It has been fully understood since the very beginning of this campaign that Irish Water was simply a vehicle to be used for the privatisation of water services and infrastructure in Ireland. The right wing, neo-liberal political establishment wished to gift the most vital of all resources to capitalist interests who would squeeze as much profit out of commodified water as possible, while cutting off the water supply to anyone who couldn't pay their extortionate charges. However, due to a huge effort on the part of working class organisers, the water charges appear on course to be abolished. The significance of this campaign in laying down a milestone for working class self organisation will be felt for years.
WSM had initated an anachist meet up for the march at 70 Sir John Rogerson Quay where Apple (evading €13Bn tax) is registered in a filing cabinet along with about 700 other companies. As it set off we reported
"We are matching toward Capel St. bridge, where we'll meet contingents from Stephen's Green, Heuston Station, & Connolly Station. Massive, consistent direct action & mobilisation has left Irish Water clinging on by the tips of its fingers, suspended, waiting to fall. But 'suspension' of water charges is just a dirty trick designed to make us go home and forget, stop organising, only to find our water privatised and double charged in the near future. But we're not falling for this sleight of hand, and are pushing to deliver the finishing blow to the Irish Water heist. We haven't gone home and are still working to defend our very basic right to clean publicly funded water."
From the stage at the end point of the rally at St. Stephen's green, assembled campaigners heard from a number of speakers and it was notable that most were not the usual faces from political parties that normally bore people quite quickly by telling them what they already know. Instead, the end of the march proved to be quite interesting with input from mental health and tax justice campaigners, along with some great music.
A man described the difficulty he and his family face as hidden homeless, having to move back in with his mother, with his wife and 3 kids (she having to bear the brunt of the situation while he's at work), but noting that 'this is a movement of hope'.
A letter was read out on behalf of one of the young people who are in court today relating to charges of 'false imprisonment' relating to the Jobstown protest earlier in the campaign, the speaker encouraged attendance at the court today to show solidarity and support.
From the large screen beside the platform a video was played giving a brief account of the Standing Rock pipeline protests that are ongoing in North Dakota in the US.
Apple's thirteen billion euro tax evasion was of course to the forefront of the discussion, as was the fact that Ireland has paid 42% of the cost of the banking crisis even through we are less than 1% of the EU population.
Vicki Donnelly, a speaker touching on these topics, ended her speech by echoing the North Dakota indigenous anti-pipeline campaigners in saying that "We are not water protesters, we are water defenders".
There are now active and highly experienced local anti-water charge campaign groups all over the country who have built a 73% boycott of the water charges and are on course to defeat the government on this issue.
While most of these groups row in behind the national Right2Water campaign (which is composed of left wing political parties and trade unions) when they announce a national demonstration, the week-to-week organisation of the campaign is handled autonomously at a local level.
The Right2Water umbrella group does not direct local organising, though it can support it by providing large scale leaflet production for national demonstrations. The most recent Right2Water organised demonstration in Dublin gave an indication of the vitality and confidence of the national campaign as it presses forward, determined to force the government to back down and scrap water charges.