Locals resolved to fight charge

by Ian Begley

Local groups seeking the abolition of Irish Water say they are determined to keep up the pressure on the new government as the future of the utility is being discussed.
Last week, it was reported that Fine Gael would consider making changes to the structure of Irish Water, along with some minor adjustments to the charging system as part of negotiations on forming a new government.
Fianna Fail said they are committed to putting an end to Irish Water and scrapping the water charges for a period of five years, which Fine Gael are against.
Cllr Ruth Nolan (PBP), of the Lucan Water Meter Watch, said that the fact that the Government are in negotiations about the future of Irish Water is “fantastic for those who have campaigned against it”.
She said: “When people stick together and unite shoulder-to-shoulder, it shows what they can actually achieve. I think it’s a fantastic day for the movement and all those involved in the campaign.
“We now know that there’s not enough numbers for Fine Gael to form a government by themselves, and I think any other party who agrees to continue with Irish Water would cause a political meltdown,” said Cllr Nolan.
Founding member of the Clondalkin Meter Watch group, Georgina O’Halloran, told The Gazette that she is sceptical of the talks regarding the possibility of scrapping Irish Water.
“Now that we have a Fine Fail and Fine Gael TD in Dublin Mid-West, we have to keep the pressure on them locally.
“The latest talks are good news for us because it’s putting our movement back in the media again. People are now cancelling their direct debits and have lost confidence in Irish Water.
“I think a lot of people voted for Fine Fail because they changed their narrative on Irish Water. It was brought up so much on the doors that they had no choice but to go along the line of abolishing it.
“I’m sceptical to see what they’ll do and what will happen from here,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister Michael Noonan said that under European law Ireland is obliged to charge consumers for water.
“There was a derogation up to 2010 where Ireland wasn’t obliged to charge for water, but the derogation was ended by the Fianna Fail-Green government, so legally now under European law water must be charged for in Ireland.
“Fine Gael’s position is we want a national utility for water rather than it reverting to local authorities, and we want water charged for. It’s within that space that any discussion with a future partner in government will have to take place,” he said.

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