Group to fight water charges

Water charges will be more vehemently opposed than the household tax and a mass grassroots campaign will be launched on every estate, town and village in the country.

The Association of Combined Residents Associations (ACRA) has said it predicts mass opposition to any attempts to impose a tax on water as householders simply cannot take another burden, following household and a likely property tax.

Malachy Steenson, general secretary of ACRA, said water was already paid for from central taxation.

“It was never free, so talk of a free allocation is nonsense,” he told members yesterday.

“The only purpose in setting up Irish Water is to pave the way for the eventual privatisation of the water supply — a bonanza to be handed over to a private operators and to the speculators and gamblers who have already destroyed this country, to profiteer from a vital resource.

“The prediction by John Fitzgerald of the ESRI last year that domestic charges would quickly amount to €1,200 is now rapidly becoming evident. These proposals for water metering and charges on top of a home tax will be met with massive resistance.

“We successfully made the household tax one of the biggest campaigns in recent decades. Water charges will be even more forcefully opposed.”

Meanwhile, Impact trade union has said the establishment of Irish Water, and its status as a subsidiary of Bord Gáis, represents a significant threat that water could be privatised.

The union has called for water infrastructure to remain under local authority control. Impact said that while the Government had not declared any intention to privatise water, conditions were being created that would enable the privatisation of water services.

“Bord Gáis is one of the state agencies being considered for privatisation. In the event that Bord Gáis is privatised, how could it be in private hands and, at the same time, have a subsidiary in public ownership?” asked national secretary Peter Nolan.

Mr Nolan was addressing a meeting of municipal employees in Kilkenny.

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