In a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD for the People Before Profit Alliance has said “basic respect for Democracy requires that the issue of water charges is taken out of the government formation talks and simply put to the Dail.”
Deputy Boyd Barrett said also that the EU, Fine Gael and the Green Party were guilty of “stunning hypocrisy” on the issue of water conservation and water quality, pointing out that that the EU, the Fianna Fail/Green government and the Fine Gael/Labour government had all slashed the capital investment programme in water infrastructure from 2008 onwards, without any regard for the disastrous effect that this would have for water conservation and water treatment.
Deputy Boyd Barrett pointed out that it was the opponents of water charges who had actively and consistently opposed cuts in investment in water infrastructure – cuts which had done enormous damage to water conservation efforts and efforts to improve water quality.
Richard Boyd Barrett said: “It is a simple and straightforward matter of democracy to sort out the current road-block on water charges and government formation. The two issues should be completely separated. All that needs to be done on the water charges issue is to allow the Dail to decide the matter and for TD’s to vote according to the mandate given to them in the recent general election. This would remove the issue from the current government formation talks and allow those talks to progress.
Allowing the Dail to decide the issue of water charges, for which it has a clear and specific mandate, would give real meaning to all the recent talk from both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail about Dail reform. The most reforming act Fine Gael and Fianna Fail could undertake is to allow the Dail to decide on an issue for which it has a clear mandate. It would restore public faith in the political system if, for once, all TD’s simply voted on an issue as they promised to before the election.
Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens would still be free to support the retention of charges but they would have to accept the fact that on this issue they are in a minority and that the democratic mandate given to a majority of TD’s requires that water charges be abolished. That’s democracy and it would finally put this issue to bed.”
Richard Boyd Barrett said also: “The current effort by the EU, Fine Gael and the Green Party to present themselves as champions of water conservation and water quality is an act of the most stunning hypocrisy and dishonesty. These are the very people who actually slashed this country’s capital investment programme in water infrastructure from 2008 onwards in order to bail-out private bankers and bondholders. The Fianna Fail/Green Party government, at the behest of the EU/IMF troika, butchered capital investment in water infrastructure and the Fine Gael/Labour government continued with those cuts. The current disastrous situation in terms of the failure to address leakage or improve water quality is precisely because of the austerity cuts demanded by the EU and enforced by Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Greens and Labour. If the EU had not demanded that we pay-out and tens of billions to bail-out bankers and bondholders, we would have had the money to invest in our water infrastructure and other vital services such as housing and health. Anyone who was a party to these cuts has some neck now blaming the anti-water charge movement for the mess in water services. In contrast, we opposed all the EU inspired cuts in public spending and warned they would have disastrous impact on this countries vital infrastructure. Even now, we should tell the EU that we are going to hold back some of the €8 billion we are paying out every year in interest payments on odious private banking debt to fix our water infrastructure and, for that matter, to provide the social housing we so desperately need.”