Dublin anti-water charge campaigners to stick with protests

‘I don’t believe the story the Government is selling . . . that they haven’t got privatisation in mind’

Dublin water charge protesters take cold comfort from the assurances of the expert commission. Photograph: The Irish Times

Dublin water charge protesters take cold comfort from the assurances of the expert commission. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Dublin water charge protesters have said they take no comfort from the assurances of the expert commission that only those excessively using water will pay.

“What is excessive use anyway? And even if they do put a figure on it, why would anyone be reassured by that?” asked Dolores Ferris from Cabra.

“Alan Kelly can come along and with the stroke of a pen reduced the size of apartments; these limits can always be changed with stroke of a pen.”

Any charging regime brings with it the risk of privatisation she said.

“I don’t believe the story the Government is selling us – that they haven’t got privatisation in mind. That’s coming straight down the road. And once water is privatised they can do what they like, it’s the primary objective of all this – if they don’t want to privatise water then enshrine that in the constitution. That is what I will continue campaigning for”.

Consumption

Charging excessive users has not proved a successful conservation measure, she said.

“In England when water charges came in consumption went down, but about six months later it went back to normal pre-charge levels. Only a small percentage of the population is profligate and they are not going to change because there is a charge there.

“I’m 67. I recycled before it was fashionable, but when I was small we just dropped litter on the ground. Litter campaigns in schools stopped kids throwing sweet wrappers on the ground, not the threat of fines.”

Tom Delaney from Clarehall in Dublin 17 said the money gained from excessive users would be unlikely to cover the costs of the billing process.

“I understand the principle of trying to encourage people to conserve water but it just comes down to trust. And I don’t trust the Government not to use this as a way of privatising water.”

Not involved with any political party or movement, Mr Delaney said water is the only issue over which he has ever taken to the streets.

“It’s the first time I ever got involved in anything like this. I always thought that you put your head down, work away, pay the bills and get on with it. I was talking to a man . . . and he made the point that we are already paying for water. And when I thought about it I realised he was right, that being asked to pay again was not fair.

“I don’t waste water. I have two young kids, but I certainly don’t go out washing the car, so I might never get charged. But I will continue to protest until they get rid of the charges; I am in this for the long haul.”

Entrenched view

Yvonne Clarke from Coolock said she didn’t, initially, give much thought to water charges.

“I got a call at 7am one morning in August 2014. I’m a Dublin supporter and it was a call from another Dublin supporter to get up and come outside and stop water meters being put in the ground. I was out of bed before I even knew what I doing.”

Her views on the issue have since become more entrenched.

“It was never about conservation Water is the new oil, water charging is about privatisation. If that wasn’t the case the Government wouldn’t refuse a referendum to keep water in public hands.”

Any charge for “wasteful” usage is “offensive and insulting” she said.

“It’s another con. It doesn’t matter how moderate charges are at the start they will always go up. I use water as every one does, I don’t have a swimming pool but even if I get a bill I will never pay.”