Candidates pledge ‘mass disobedience’ on water charges

People Before Profit alliance claims charges are about ‘paying the debts of bankers’

Brid Smith of the People Before Profit Alliance, canvassing in Dublin this week. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Brid Smith of the People Before Profit Alliance, canvassing in Dublin this week. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Candidates running for the People Before Profit alliance in Friday’s local elections have said they will help build “ a movement of mass civil disobedience” to stop water charges.

Speaking at the organisation’s final national press conference before the ballot, Lucan candidate Ruth Nolan said the resistance that had been seen to water charges in the west Dublin area was “a sign of things to come”.

“The victory in Cork where Irish Water was forced to remove the meters shows the government can be beaten – water charges are not inevitable,” she said.

“People Before Profit will help build a movement of mass civil disobedience to stop the water charges. Water charges are not about water conservation, they’re about paying back the debts of bankers.”

Dublin Pembroke-South Dock candidate Sonya Stapleton said, however, that housing was “by far” the biggest issue coming up on doorsteps during canvassing.

“People are in crisis. Many families are faced with the prospect of homelessness. The government and councils have deliberately stopped building social housing to drive house prices and rents up,” she said.

She said the alliance would implement rent caps to make rents affordable and would also start an emergency social housing building programme.

Rathfarnham candidate John Flanagan, a mental health nurse who works with the homeless for the Dublin Simon community, said he was also acutely aware of the current homeless and housing crisis.

“The health service and our other social services have broken under the strain of austerity – so have many people as evidenced in the increase in suicides and mental illness,” he said.

Councillor Brid Smith, who is running for the European Parliament in Dublin and who is also seeking re-election as a councillor in Ballyfermot, said recent polls had confirmed “ what has been obvious for weeks to those of us canvassing”.

“People are determined to kick out the political establishment.”

“They have lost their mandate to govern – it’s time they left office. Labour in particular deserve all they get – they betrayed people by promising to burn the bondholders, but rolled over for them instead,” she said.