Murphy warns of new street protests if water charges return

Reports of some type of charge was ‘least surprising news of the year’

Water protests will return alongside any reimposition of charges. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Water protests will return alongside any reimposition of charges. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

 

Anti-water charge protests will return to Irish streets if charges are reintroduced, a lead campaigner has vowed.

It follows reports by RTÉ that an expert commission examining the controversial charges may conclude some form of payment be required so Ireland can meet its obligations under EU rules.

The report of the Commission is still being finalised and will set out a number of funding options and will be presented to an Oireachtas Committee in the next fortnight.

Paul Murphy, who will represent the Anti-Austerity Alliance - People Before Profit (AAA-PBP) group on the committee to consider charges, said the reports were the “least surprising news of the year”.

“Close to €300,000 of public money has been spent on this ‘political exercise’, designed to pile on pressure on TDs to break their election promises to oppose water charges,” he said on Saturday.

“Whatever the Expert Water Commission says will not change the reality of this political debate. A majority of TDs elected to the Dáil were elected on a platform which included opposition to water charges and Irish Water.”

Mr Murphy said any attempt to reintroduce charges would precipitate a return of the mass protests and rallies that helped shape the last general election.

Fianna Fáil will hold the balance of power between anti-water charges and pro-water charges forces on the Dáil committee and in the Dáil itself,” he said.

“What happens with water charges in this Dáil term will be decided by whether they stick to their election promises and the recent definitive anti-water charges position they put in their submission to the Commission.”

In a statement to the commission, Fianna Fáil proposed the water infrastructure be paid for through general taxation and the principle of charging for usage should be abolished for good.

That marked a departure from its previous stance that charges should only be suspended, as it argued in its negotiations with Fine Gael earlier this year to facilitate a minority government led by Enda Kenny.