Thurles Demonstration For Our Right To Water
Mr Michael Lange, newly appointed Chairman of Thurles Right2water Committee reports.
Formation of the Thurles Right2Water committee.
“I am pleased to announce the formation of the Thurles right2water committee. The committee has been formed as a cross party, non-political forum to provide voice and direction for the people of Thurles against current unfair and inequitable water charges.
The water charges in their current form drastically punish middle and low income earners while having almost no effect on higher earners. Since the introduction of austerity many families and households around the country, particularly in Tipperary, have struggled to make ends meet.
During the winter many households already have to choose between heat or food on a daily basis. I believe that the water charges represent a huge injustice on these people and indeed on all of the people of Ireland. When “pay by metering” for water is introduced will households now also have to choose which child’s turn it is to have a shower on a given day? For me the constant slide in the standard of living experienced since the onset of austerity has taken a leap into the obscene.
We simply cannot afford to pay any more. Health care, property tax, universal social charge, education fees increasing, road tax, stealthy reduction of tax credits in the budget of 2013, the list goes on and on. We are already struggling to keep our heads above water. There is no more blood to be squeezed out of this stone.
We constantly hear about a recovery in the country at the moment, I ask a recovery for whom? Yes jobs are returning into the economy, but what standard of living do we now have as a result of the payment from those jobs? Look to your own lives, your own households, your own families, your own weekly finances and ask yourself are you part of this recovery? Look at your own access to services here in Thurles and in county Tipperary and ask yourself are you feeling the recovery, has austerity ceased to be harsh on you?
We already pay for our water. The Irish people pay 1.2 billion Euro per year for water through general taxation. At the last attempt to introduce water charges in Ireland between 1994 and 1997 there were extensive national protests. There was also a national boycott campaign. The then government capitulated to the pressure the people of Ireland imposed on them. Instead of charges they increased the rate of motor tax and VAT and diverted these extra funds towards local authorities to fund the cost of providing water to the public.
The Irish public have been subjected to increases in taxation on many occasions since the 1970s in order to fund our national water infrastructure. The fact that the funding of our national water infrastructure has been a political cold potato in terms of “bang for your buck” with the electorate, has led to extensive under investment in our water systems. Once again the Irish people are being punished for the incompetence of those who were chosen to lead us, publicly represent us and act in our interests.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the country also recognise these injustices and have stated they will not register with Irish Water for so called “allowances” (contracts is disguise) and that they will not pay. We wish to provide a voice for the people of Thurles in the national fight for the recognition of your basic human right to drinking water and decent levels of sanitation regardless of monitory worth. We oppose the commoditization of the very resource that we as human beings need to survive.
The introduction of a charge on water represents the transferral of water from being a public good to a private good in economic terms. This means that water will be a commodity, like petrol or bread, to be bought and sold in order to make profits. Water will no longer be considered a moral human right but instead a commodity what will be only be available to people who can afford it.
Central government tax the petrol on your car. Let’s say in the morning they increase this charge by 500%. What would you do? Maybe you would start to drive less. Maybe you would buy a bicycle. Maybe you can no longer afford to run your car and you sell it. You will survive, you will find a way. But now they are looking to tax and charge for the very commodity that we as human beings need to survive. This is the battle this country is fighting at this very moment, it is the fight for our basic moral human right to water.
In July 2010 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing access to clean water and sanitation as a Human Right. The Irish representative abstained from voting. At this point in time the Irish state does not recognise your human right of access to clean and safe water, enough for us to drink and enjoy basic levels of sanitation. This is the battle we now fight.
One of the world’s great business opportunities
“Multinational companies now run water systems for seven percent of the world’s population, and analysts say that figure could grow to 17% by 2015. Private water management is estimated to be a $200 billion business, and the World Bank, which has encouraged governments to sell off their utilities to reduce public debt, projects it could be worth $1 trillion by 2021. The potential for profits is staggering: in May 2000 Fortune magazine predicted that water is about to become ‘one of the world’s great business opportunities,’ and that ‘it promises to be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th.’ — John Louma, “Water Thieves,” – The Ecologist, March 2004.
Make no mistake; Irish Water is a private company. Log on to their web page and check the very bottom of the page if you have any doubts. Private Company Limited by Shares, Registered Office Colvill House, 24-26 Talbot Street, Dublin 1, Registered in Ireland. Registered No. 530363. The government currently own 100% percent of the shares in this company. One stroke of a pen at the behest of the EU, the IMF or the Troika and boom, our national water infrastructure and our right to water regardless of monitory worth, vanishes.
Irish water is set up for privatization. Our national water production systems have been paid for by the people of Ireland through direct taxation since the foundation of the state. These assets have been transferred from the ownership of the Irish people into the hands of a private company, Irish Water. They no longer belong to us, the citizens of Ireland. The current incarnation of Irish Water is a stepping stone on the road to privatization.
Irish water is set up under the corporate umbrella of Bord Gáis. Irish Water’s sister company Bord Gáis Energy, which entails our entire national gas distribution network, is due to be sold into private corporate hands within the next two weeks. It is being sold to British Gas. There is a trick, a play on the assumption in the name British Gas. One would assume that British Gas is in the ownership of the British Government and in turn the people of Britain. This is not true. “British” Gas is a subsidiary of a private conglomerate corporation called Centrica plc. Centrica is a British multinational utility company with its headquarters in Windsor, Berkshire. Its principal activity is the supply of electricity and gas to businesses and consumers in the United Kingdom and North America. And within a matter of days these assets, our gas network, will no longer belong to the people of Ireland but will be in private corporate hands. There the only interest is in profits for shareholders and not the betterment of society and the interests of the welfare of the ordinary citizens of a country.
Headed down the dark road of privatization?
Irish water is the sister company of Bord Gáis Energy. Irish water is an almost exact replica in terms of organizational structure and subsidiary status under the parent company of Bord Gáis. Is it a far leap to suggest that Irish water too is headed down the dark road of privatization? I hope that on this thought, common sense will prevail.
The name of Bord Gáis itself has also been changed in recent weeks to Ervia. Could this be seen as an attempt to remove the events happening to the company from the public consciousness? Whatever your answer to this question, remember the name, watch it carefully, it is not only our own but our children’s futures that are at stake; when it comes to the most precious of all resources.
I believe that we need to conserve water in Ireland. I would welcome a system of fair and equitable, nominal charges on water usage that would encourage conservation. Perhaps only a nominal charge for any water consumed that is above the amount needed to have a more than adequate supply for your household would be something to consider.
Betrayal, Profits and Greed
Irish water is not about conservation. It is about betrayal, profits and greed. The company Irish Water has been set up on a 100% set up cost recovery basis. If consumption reduces the prices will increase. The aim is to extract more money from the population for the appeasement of a bankers spread sheet.
However there is a faint light beginning to emerge in the darkness. The Irish people have started to wake up to the events of the banking bail out scam. This statement writes about what I call the Irish Water Mafia scam. The current events in Ireland and the events of the preceding seven years are part of a well practiced formula, a formula that has been implemented by the IMF internationally for over 40 years.
The Bolivian water wars of the early years of the 1990’s is one example of how the people rose up, over threw their government and retook control of their national water infrastructure against the backdrop of IMF manoeuvring and privatization. In Greece this very year water privatization was defeated in the Greek Supreme Court. All over Ireland over the past month the people are taking to the streets, burning and tearing up application packs. People everywhere, (over one million households) are boycotting Irish water. The citizens of Ireland have begun their battle for their right to water.
There is something unique, something tribal in every person that awakens when water is inserted into the equation. I was at the first protest against the Water charges in Dublin on the 20th of September 2014. There were around three thousand of us. Up until this time a tiny, tiny minority of people had been consistently protesting against austerity. They were viewed as extremists or with indifference by the general population and I must confess the latter applied to me personally.
Until the protest of the 20th of September this year I had only attended one single protest. That was for the increase of beds in the Thurles Hospital of The Assumption. A massive crowd turned out for the Hospital and results were achieved. The impact that we had on the streets of Dublin on the 20th was phenomenal. The look on the faces of the ordinary citizens going about their daily business was one of shock and awe but also of hope. We locked down O’Connell Street and sections of the keys for over 3 hours. Many people joined in with the march. Many people were awakened to the issues of cut backs and bailouts, many were awakened to the fight for our right to water.
The oldest lady on the day was 83, the youngest was only a few months. There were families, toddlers, people of all ages and social backgrounds. This protest was not on the state controlled media, RTE nor featured anywhere in the mainstream media the following day. But that didn’t matter, social media and word of mouth spread the truth of the events of that day. What I witnessed that day was the start of a fundamental concept. The de-stigmatization of protesting in 21st century Ireland. The people of Ireland and indeed the residents of Thurles must awaken themselves to the massive power that they possess with those two limbs that are between their body and the ground.
Constitutional Right to Freely Assemble
Every citizen of Ireland has the constitutional right to freely assemble on civic property without arms and to protest. I believe that protesting is the action of true patriots of Ireland. Getting feet on the street has already achieved so much. The budget was certainly not as harsh as I believe it would have been; without the protests. The government have upped allowances, extended the registration period and added allowances for people on lower incomes or social welfare. The standing charge period has been extended until 2016 when the metered system will kick in.
We have them on the back foot and the government are shaking to the core. Sooner or later under European competition law, the government allowances to a private company will have to be stopped. The price of water will continue to rise. We will see the yearly cost of water come in line with the EU averages of €500 to €700 per household per year. If the government manage to enforce their will and decrees regarding Irish Water on the citizens of our Island, privatization will only be a short step away. Now is the time that we must fight.
Extending the implementation time-line is an attempt to bribe and delay the final aims of Irish Water, namely the commoditization of water and the selling of our water as a resource and our national water infrastructure to private corporate hands. We must not be bullied, we must not be bribed, we must not lose sight of our children’s and future generation’s right to water. I implore people to hold fast, join your fellow citizens, stay united, stay the course.
Fast forward to the protest of the 11th of September last. Over 100,000 people took to the streets of Dublin that day. The atmosphere was electric and all of Dublin centre was locked down for the entire afternoon. I believe that if we all sat down that day and didn’t move maybe Irish Water would not be in existence today.
We are now entering the localized phase of the campaign, preceding the next big push on Dublin. The national movement of the people of Ireland against the Irish Water Mafia scam are calling for a series of localized protests over the coming weeks. The aim of this is to spread the message to those not already aware of the issues and to get everybody involved. One of the greatest powers we have is protesting. (That and resisting with our wallets.) Protesting acts as advertising for the people’s fight against Irish water. It shows the numbers standing against the injustice of the theft of our water systems. It shows those not involved of our numbers, of our unity. It raises awareness of the issues. Greece protested, nearly burned their country to the ground, they got half of their banking debt written off. We did nothing and we shoulder 42% of the total EU cost of the banking crisis.
Protesting has toppled governments and oppression around the world for the last 120 years. Protesting convinces more people Not to Pay. Protesting is the duty of every citizen of Ireland in the fight for the recognition of our basic human right to drinking water and the basic human right to sanitation. This fight is for our children and their children. This is “The Alamo” for the Irish people. Water is life. This is the fight for life and righteousness and justice for the Irish people. The most powerful weapons we have are those two things under us, our feet. If we all get them on the street we will win this battle. If we all take part and stand together we will win this campaign, we will win our right to water and we will win a better life for all of us. Will you join us?
The Thurles Right2Water Committee has called a PUBLIC MEETING this week. It will take place on THURSDAY, October 30th in HAYES HOTEL at 8.00pm. The aim of this meeting will be to inform and discuss the issues surrounding Irish Water and finalise the details and planning of the THURLES DEMONSTRATION FOR OUR RIGHT TO WATER.
Thurles Demonstration For Our Right To Water.
The Thurles Demonstration will take place on SATURDAY, November 8th 2014 at 2.00pm.
Please assemble at the Premier Hall Thurles, (beside the district Court House).
Absolutely everyone is welcome, regardless of personal political positions or positions of party policy.
I would like to reiterate that this committee is an open forum. We would welcome more committee members. We want to be representative of every person in Thurles. This fight against the introduction of Water taxation is a movement of the people. It must be non-political. It must be all party and non-party. It is a fundamental belief of this committee that no person shall be turned away or heckled because of any political or indeed anti-establishment or anti political leanings. We need to stand together in this fight. Too long there is division and infighting in our communities, this is every man, woman and child’s fight to establish our right to water. This, the most basic of causes, I believe, and supersedes political and personal priorities. We now fight for the recognition of our basic human right to drinking water and our basic human right to decent levels of sanitation.
No consent, No contract, Return to Sender.
Don’t be bullied, don’t be tricked, don’t be divided, we need to stand together. We are the custodians of our grand children’s future. No consent, No contract, return to sender. Our oil, our gas, our forests, our communications, our roads, our sugar industry, our transport, our very economic sovereignty were bad enough, but our water? Our water is the very resource that we as human-beings need to survive. This is why we must fight to the end. This is why we must fight together; Water must be a human right – Water must belong to the people, not the corporations.
Join Your People, Join the Fight, Water is a Human Right