Councillor leaves Renua just two months after joining

James Charity quits over Lucinda Creighton’s party’s ‘U-turn’ on water charges

Cllr James Charity was being lined up to run in the Galway West constituency for Renua but will now revert to running as an Independent. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Cllr James Charity was being lined up to run in the Galway West constituency for Renua but will now revert to running as an Independent. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Renua Ireland has said it will rerun its selection convention for Galway West following the resignation of the party’s high-profile candidate in the constituency.

Councillor James Charity announced he was leaving Renua, only two months after joining the party led by former Fine Gael TD Lucinda Creighton.

Mr Charity, a barrister, cited several reasons for leaving the party so soon after joining. The principal one, he said, was what he described as the party’s u-turn on water charges. He will now return to being an Independent councillor.

In the local elections last year, Mr Charity polled over 1,400 votes in the Athenry and Oranmore electoral area. He also had issues with the party, claiming a lack of support on a local issue pertaining to a cemetery in Annaghdown.

It was Ms Creighton’s stance on water charges that was the deal-breaker for the Galway councillor. She has said she agrees in principle with charging for water while being opposed to the manner in which Irish Water was set up,

A Renua spokesman said it was sorry Mr Charity felt a parting of ways with it had to occur.

“We appreciate that he put a great deal of time and energy into his short commitment to the party,” said the spokesman.

The party said it knew Mr Charity was uneasy with Ms Creighton’s stance but those views had been consistent.

The spokesman said it would rerun the Galway West convention as it was a priority constituency for Renua Ireland. He said the constituency needed a representative to reflect the strong small and medium enterprise sector there.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, a former member of Fine Gael, has been mentioned as a possible target for the party.

Outlining his reasons for departure, Mr Charity said: “Renua’s position on water charges was always very clear to me prior to joining, with our stated policy being ‘We fundamentally disagree with how water charges have been introduced and will continue to do so until Irish Water has been radically reformed and public waste eliminated.’”

Mr Charity said he was then surprised to see comments from Ms Creighton in the media stating it was understandable that water services would have to be paid for.

“In my view, this was advocating a pro-water charges position on the one hand, and a criticism of the corporate entity on the other, which was not in keeping with the party’s adopted position.”

He raised the issue with Ms Creighton but was told the party was not opposed to charging for water in principle.

“I cannot support this position as it fundamentally fails to appreciate that water services have always been paid for in this country via indirect taxation,” he said.