Socialist TD Joe Higgins has stressed the only way the anti-Irish Water campaign will survive and succeed is through “peaceful protest” that does not plumb the depths of “insulting” comments against officials.
The senior left-wing figure made the comment as tens of thousands of people prepare to turn out on the streets this afternoon for the latest national day of protest against the controversial charging system.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland to highlight at least 17 marches that have been planned throughout the country for today, Mr Higgins said the campaign is continuing to drive forward and will eventually overcome the “odious payments”.
Despite more than one million people already signing up to Irish Water before the latest registration deadline on Monday and the fact legislation copper-fastening the fees was signed into law last month after marathon Dáil and Seanad debates, the opposition TD said he believes the charges “cannot survive” the upcoming general election.
However, despite the comments, he added the only way the anti-charges campaign will succeed is if all protesters remain “peaceful” and do not join a “very tiny minority” in “insulting” behaviour.
The remark came after a week in which there was widespread criticism and public debate over abuse leveled at President Michael D Higgins and Tánaiste Joan Burton by protesters unaffiliated to the Right2Water campaign.
While party colleague Paul Murphy appeared to defend the actions, Mr Higgins said he had been “deliberately” misinterpreted.
Union-backed group Right2Water said yesterday it expects large numbers of people to attend today’s protests, adding what the public wants is “abolition” of the charges not “concessions” such as the €100 conservation grant.
“Last year, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets, and wrung significant concessions from the Government.
“But as we said at the time, people marched for abolition, not concessions,” a spokesperson said.
Local and regional protests will be taking place in 17 locations throughout this afternoon, with other smaller events also being planned. The marches include:
Meanwhile, People before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said recent revelations over the cost of administering the €100 conservation grant and the fact Irish Water charges may earn the Exchequer just €40m when billing costs and other matters are calculated show the company’s finances “are reaching the level of the absurd”.
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