As everyone knows Irish Water is on the ropes and the Fine Gael/Labour coalition is in disarray.
At least 57% of the people are not paying the charges and Irish Water are still unable to install meters in many areas. On top of that there has been the Eurostat ruling that Irish Water doesn’t qualify to be treated as ‘off the government’s books’ and the fiasco over the so-called ‘conservation’ grant.
It’s one debacle after another – omnishambles all the way. And it all has a common root: the fact that Water Charges, as the lightning rod for anger at austerity as a whole, were met with largest, deepest movement of mass resistance in the history of the state.
It is people power that has done it. That is what the Government didn’t reckon with and that’s what they haven’t been able to cope with.
When they faced hundreds of thousands on the streets in October and November of last year, not just in Dublin but in every town in Ireland the Government retreated on their threats to turn off people’s water. But this left them with no effective sanction against non-payment and they still haven’t got one. No one needs to pay and no one needs to be afraid not to pay.
So the Government turned to the bribe of the ‘conservation’ grant but it wasn’t even an effective bribe because you could get it without paying. But they couldn’t make it conditional on paying for fear of its effect on the Eurostat ruling. But Eurostat ruled against them anyway because of the level of non-payment! Omnishambles!
The Government’s only hope is to survive to the next election. But things are looking bad for them on that front too. Fine Gael and Labour are falling out with each other over who to blame for each new disaster.
And Joan Burton has driven another nail into Labour’s coffin with the absurd threat to prosecute the Jobstown 23 with a range of offences including ‘false imprisonment, criminal damage and public order’ over a sit-down protest nine months ago.
Obviously this threat is highly menacing for the people involved and must be strongly contested but it’s also, as Paul Murphy TD has said, ‘absolutely farcical’ and hardly likely to help Labour in its more or less hopeless quest to regain some support.
Government heading for defeat
According to the latest poll Fine Gael are at 27% with Labour on just 6% – way below what they would need to get re-elected.
And as we go to press international capitalism seems on the brink of another collapse as global share prices tumble in response to China’s economic slow down and falling stock market. And if the system does return to recession it will put paid to the Government’s neoliberal strategy for ‘export led’ recovery.
All of this makes it very clear what the movement and the people need to do.
Keep up the pressure on the streets and in the estates. Don’t pay the second bills – even if you paid the first time. Clear out the Fine Gael/Labour Government and the other pro-water charges, pro-austerity, pro-capitalist parties like Fianna Fáil and Renua .
But of course this raises the question of ‘what is the alternative.?’