People who do not pay the water charges should still collect their €100 conservation grant, anti-water charge campaigners have said.
Sinn Féin, People Before Profit and the Anti-Austerity Alliance joined forces yesterday to encourage people to protest in a national demonstration tomorrow.
Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy urged a big turnout to “put the final nail in the coffin of Irish Water”.
He said this would be a reminder to the Government that the anger over the introduction of water charges had not subsided.
“There is one key additional reason for people to protest that I would like to stress and that is the reported imminent charging of 23 anti-water charge protesters who participated in a protest in Jobstown last November,” Mr Murphy said.
“They are facing extremely serious charges – violent disorder, criminal damage – charges that have very serious penalties attached to them if they were found guilty.
“That is a very significant attack on the water charges movement as a whole.”
Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said if his party were in power, Irish Water would be abolished.
He said the arrears in which customers found themselves would be wiped out but that money paid would not be refunded.
Mr Doherty said people were entitled to register with Irish Water, collect their conservation grant and not pay their bills.
“Is it hypocritical to take the €100? Not at all,” Mr Doherty said.
“Anything that can put pressure on the Irish Government to abolish water charges, then people should do that and if that includes the €100 that they are entitled to, then why not do that?”
If householders register with Irish Water now, they are still entitled to the conservation grant distributed by the Department of Social Protection.
This applies regardless of whether or not they have paid their bills.
Mr Doherty said the grant was never about water but was a “sweetener to try to entice people” to pay their bills.
Mr Murphy said he would encourage people not to engage with Irish Water at all but said if they had registered, they are entitled to collect the €100 payment.
“The water conservation grant was a con,” he said. “It was a trick to try to get people into the system, bribing them with their own money and bribing them with money taken from lone parents.
"It was an attempted con on Eurostat but the con has not worked in either respect and now they are left with the conservation grant which is causing a problem between Labour and Fine Gael."
The march will take place in Dublin city centre tomorrow afternoon. Demonstrators will assemble at Connolly Station and Heuston Station at 2pm. They will then proceed from these two locations to O’Connell Street.