Any ‘Bertie-Style stroke’ by Michael Martin to replace water charges with a new tax will be opposed
Press Release - 30th Nov 2016
At a press conference this morning on the Dail Plinth, AAA-PBP TDs reacted to the findings of the Expert Commission on Water Charges.
Paul Murphy TD said “The report by the Expert Commission is a political fudge to allow Fine Gael to claim water charges are still in place and for Fianna Fail to say that water charges are gone.
“The report acts as a Trojan Horse to allow for the future re-introduction of water charges. The idea of ‘excessive usage’ and a free allowance keeps the principle of paying for water in place.
“It makes no financial sense to keep a charging regime in place if it is only for a tiny minority of people unless they intend to charge a broader layer of people in future through reducing the allowance and increasing charges as happened with the bin charges.
“The water metering programme should now be halted immediately. It has been a waste of half a billion which could have been invested in fixing pipes or locating leaks on a district level.
“The anti-water charges movement demanded the full abolition of charges not their amendment. If they accept this report Fianna Fail will have broken their election pledge, people should get ready for further protests.”
Bríd Smith said, “The expert commission report is merely a method to try to get water charges in the back door. It is a scam that the Irish people will not accept.
“90 TDs were elected on a mandate of scrapping water charges. Fianna Fail made a commitment in their election manifesto to scrap water charges and this commission is designed to let them off the hook.
“The Right2Water parties and unions will be meeting to discuss preparations for a big mobilisation on the streets in the New Year to remind the government and Fianna Fail that water charges are to go in their entirety.
“On the same day that we receive this report we have also found out that Ceribus paid €1,900in tax. If we have applied the 12.5% tax rate we would have collected €9 million.”
Mick Barry TD said “It is incredible for Fianna Fail to try to claim that they have abolished water charges while at the same time Michael Martin is reported to be proposing a sneaky plan to roll it into the property tax. Rather than abolishing the charge it amounts to a ‘we will get you one way or the other approach’ – a Bertie style stroke.
“Any attempt to impose a new ‘dedicated tax’ on working class people will be opposed by the movement. Fianna Fail will put themselves in the cross-hairs of the anti-water charges movement if they try to do anything like this – simply replacing one tax with another.
“Minister Simon Coveney has said that he plans to pursue non-payers – that will pit him against 73% of the population who boycotted the last bill. Rather than staging a last stand, he should instead reimburse people who paid.
“A national demonstration in the New Year is already being discussed to maximise the pressure on Fianna Fail to fully abolish the charge and to back off on any plans for a new tax.”
Richard Boyd Barrett said “There is nothing expert about this report it is just an enormous political fudge- the role of which is to save the political blushes of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael and allow for the return of water charges at some point in the future.
“People should not be fooled by this con trick or the spin and media management of this issue that we have seen for the last couple of days. The early leaking of the report was a deliberate ploy by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to manipulate opinion and make it appear the whole issue was done and dusted.
“We have been down this road with water charges where there were promises of waivers and keeping charges low. The waivers soon disappeared and charges rocketed. We will not be fooled again.
“We will be urging people to take to the streets again early in the new year to say to Fine Gael and Fianna Fail that water charges must go.
“What we need is a major investment programme in actually fixing the water infrastructure and encouraging real conservation.”