Brid Smith says: Water charges – a victory for the people.

The establishment politicians are raging about it and so are many of the commentators and pundits in the media, but they can’t do anything about it. The fact is that on water charges the people have won.

Socialist Worker

Brid Smith says: Water charges – a victory for the people.

The establishment politicians are raging about it and so are many of the commentators and pundits in the media, but they can’t do anything about it. The fact is that on water charges the people have won.
Remember ‘Big’ Phil Hogan, the Fine Gael bully. He was going to charge us all five or six hundred a year and reduce our water ‘to a trickle’ if we didn’t pay. Well we didn’t pay and Hogan is long gone and now so are the water charges.
It is true it is not a total and absolute victory.
It would have been better if there were no charges for ‘excessive usage’ and no water meters in new builds, because water should be a basic human right.
It’s also true that we could have had that total victory but for the double dealing and last minute sell out by Fianna Fáil who went back on their word at the election and their commitments on the Dail Water Charges Committee to, in the end, vote with Fine Gael.
Remember
But we should remember that it was Fianna Fail who introduced water charges in the first place and they were only dragged, kicking and screaming, to say they were opposed to the charges by the pressure of the people.
And this is the great lesson of the whole struggle – it was people power that won it! It is was ordinary people, overwhelmingly working class people it has to be said, who blocked the installation of water meters in their communities by defending their shores. To this day hardly any water meters have been installed Ballyfermot, Drimnagh, Crumlin, and many other areas of the country.
It was ordinary people who took to the streets in their hundreds of thousands in the autumn of 2014: first in the town centre on October 11, then in even larger numbers in the localities on November 4. Not only right across Dublin but in every town, large and small, across the State, from Letterkenny to Cork, from Dundalk to Gorey.
It was ordinary people, right across Ireland, who simply refused to pay. And the ministers, and government politicians and overpaid media RTE presenters could huff-and-puff all they liked but a tax that most people wont pay is not a viable tax and there was nothing they could do about it.
And it was ordinary working class who elected TDs who were pledged to oppose the water charges. In my constituency of Dublin South Central that meant three out of four Right2Water TDS.
People Before Profit is very proud to have played its part in every stage of this movement from the first conference on Water Charges which we organised together with Unite the Union and others in early 2014.
For that conference we brought over  activists who had defeated water privatisation in Cochabamba, Bolivia and from the beginning we said people power on the streets and in the communities was the way to win. And we have been part of the movement ever since.
Now we can celebrate our victory but we can’t sit back and say it’s all over. First there is the crucial question of the Jobstown defendants and other water charges activists. Doubtless Joan Burton and the government would like to take revenge for their humiliating defeat  through the ridiculous charge of ‘false imprisonment’ and if possible get Paul Murphy sent to jail. We musn’t let that happen.
Then, there is little doubt that in years to come the establishment and their corporate cronies will try again to get their hands on our water. We mustn’t let that happen either.
Finally there is the fact, as even Enda Kenny understood, that it was never just about water. It was always about the whole rotten system that sacrificed the people for the bankers and the 1%. And that system continues – with the same rotten priorities – as we see every day. And the basic lesson of the great water charges movement is that people power can change that too..

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