Can you afford to pay this double tax?
Communities across the Country are preparing to meet the government head- on over plans to introduce water charges. Families hard-hit by the recession will face new charges that could soar to over €1000 according to campaigners, who say people can’t and won’t pay this double-tax.
The Department of the Environment have confirmed that they hope to roll out new “smart metres” to homes across the country in the coming months paving the way for the charge to be brought in as soon as next year.
Environment Minister, John Gormley TD has stated that the Government hopes to squeeze €1 billion a year from householders with the charges. However the government have been promised that they will have a fight on their hands as left-activists call for a campaign of civil disobedience against what they say is a “double tax”.
In February, following an invitation from Socialist Party MEP Joe Higgins, over 100 delegates from a broad range of community and political groupings met in the Teachers Club in Dublin.
The packed meeting, which featured representatives from across the left, discussed strategies learnt in the previous bin and water charges campaign as well as issues around wealth and taxation policy in Ireland.
Gregor Kerr, former secretary of the Federation of Anti-Water Charges Campaign explained that in the mid ‘90s thousands of people refused to pay the double tax and managed to beat it and he believes this will happen again.
“It will be a challenge to build another strong campaign but the Government will face serious opposition, Hopefully, communities will put their weight behind this all across the city. People are ready to take a stand.”
Mr Kerr explained that in the previous campaign of mass non-payment solidar- ity between communities in struggle was the key to victory. Organised across Dublin, the campaign made the charge unworkable and local authorities were forced to back down.
“Thousands of people simply refused to pay,” he added. “We made it unmanageable and uncol- lectible. People were reconnected when they were cut off.
“Neighbours would show up in court to support each other and legal challenges were launched to prevent the courts forcing people to pay. That’s how we beat it and we’ll do it again.”
Workers’ Party Councillor Ted Tynan has highlighted the situation in Britain where after privatization water charges increased dramatically while the profits of the water companies rocketed up to 1000% in the space of a few years.
Tynan highlighted the alarming number of disconnections, which rose 177 per cent, while 10,000 jobs were lost as water companies sought to cut costs even further.
“While it is accepted that this country and the world will face moreand more water shortages in the future, the fact is that it is the management of water, not its availability, is the real crisis,” Tynan added.
“Advocates of privatisation ignore the fact that there have been years of under- investment in our water system and that it has been deliberately run down to pre- pare it for privatisation.”
Tynan added that the Workers Party have been opposing double taxations such as these for over 25 years, since they were first introduced by the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government.