Massive right to water protests take place in Ireland

After years of free water services, the centre-right coalition government has decided to charge water : a very unpopular mesure.
Council of Canadians, Canada
Published: 3 years, 3 months ago (10/16/2014)
Updated: 3 years, 3 months ago (10/16/2014)

An estimated 100,000 people marched against water charges and austerity in the Irish capital of Dublin this past weekend. An even larger protest is expected on November 1.

Vice reports, "[The Republic of] Ireland is set to become one of the few countries in the world with mandatory water meters. This means its residents will be paying more than most Europeans do for water, whereas before it was paid for by taxes." Reuters further explains, "After years of free water services, the centre-right coalition [government] has decided to charge households hundreds of euros from the start of next year, an unpopular move just 18 months before the next election [which must take place before April 3, 2016] where the government parties hope to be rewarded by voters for an economic upturn."

BBC notes, "Raising money from water charges was a condition imposed on Ireland by the EU-IMF-ECB [European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank] troika as part of the country's bailout in 2010 following economic collapse." On November 28, 2010, the EU, IMF and the Irish state agreed to a €85 billion loan to Ireland, including €22.5 billion from the IMF.

"Bills will range from 176 euros (£137) a year for a single-person household to nearly 500 euros (£389) for a family of four adults." This is a lot of money given the Irish League of Credit Unions says 1.8 million people in Ireland - close to half the population - have less than €100 ($127) left every month after paying their bills. The Irish Times has reported on speculation that "some measure [could be introduced] to help the lower paid and people on social welfare" pay their water bills.

RT.com adds, "The move [to charge for water] immediately became unpopular among the country’s population, and has sparked a mass non-payment movement." The BBC article says, "Protests have taken place in different parts of the country, usually when contractors come to install meters for the new water-charging regime."

David Gibney of the Right2Water campaign says water is a human right and should not be dependent on income.

The Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny leads the Fine Gael party, governs in coalition with the Labour party, and supports the water charges. The Anti-Austerity Alliance, led by the Socialist Party, and Sinn Fein oppose the water charges. Socialist Party member of the Dáil Éireann (Irish parliament) Joe Higgins (a Canada-EU 'free trade' agreement opponent we met when he was a Member of the European Parliament in Brussels in 2010) describes the water charge as “an attack on working class people” and is part of the “we won’t pay campaign” that calls on people to “boycott the water charge”.

The Blue Planet Project is in solidarity with the water justice and anti-austerity movements in Ireland.

Source:

Council of Canadians, "Massive right to water protests take place in ireland", Council of Canadians, 14/10/2014, http://www.canadians.org/blog/massive-right-water-protests-take-place-ireland

La fin de la gratuité de l’eau en Irlande

Marion Veber, IERPE, Belgium
Published: 3 years, 3 months ago (10/15/2014)
Updated: 3 years, 3 months ago (10/15/2014)

L’eau à usage domestique est gratuite en Irlande depuis 1997. L’Irlande avait fait le choix de financer le service de l’eau via l’impôt, permettant ainsi l’accès à tout un chacun à l’eau potable. Le non accès à l’eau du fait de revenus insuffisants, comme c’est le cas parfois dans plusieurs pays, était ainsi évité, l’Irlande remplissant alors deux des conditions majeures pour la concrétisation du droit à l’eau : l’accessibilité économique et la non discrimination.

Depuis une loi votée en 2009, l’Irlande se dirige vers la fin de ce système. Face à la crise économique, le gouvernement irlandais a cherché à réduire les dépenses et mettre fin à ce statut d’exception face au principe clé de la Directive Cadre Européenne sur l’Eau de 2000, à savoir le principe de la récupération des coûts totaux du service hydrique par le paiement d’un prix.

Or, la fin de la gratuité de l’eau n’est pas sans susciter une vive opposition des habitants. Le week-end dernier, des dizaines de milliers de personnes sont ainsi descendues dans les rues pour exprimer leur rejet de cette mesure imposée par le gouvernement de centre droit. Le message porté lors de cette marche, organisée par Right2Water et the Anti Austerity Alliance (AAA) et jugée comme étant la plus importante manifestation anti austérité depuis plusieurs années, était clair : « L’eau est un droit humain ».

La lutte contre la mise en place de la tarification de l’eau domestique en Irlande était un des thèmes forts de la campagne du socialiste Paul Murphy, ancien député européen de la GUE/NGL et membre de Anti Austerity Alliance (AAA), qui a d’ailleurs remporté une élection législative dans le Sud Ouest de Dublin. Il a appelé la population au boycott de la mesure et à la mise en place de campagnes de non-paiement des futures factures d’eau.

Sources:

Elise Poudevigne, « L’Irlande envisage de mettre fin à la gratuité de l’eau », Le journal de l’Environnement,15/03/2010, http://www.journaldelenvironnement.net/article/l-irlande-envisage-de-mettre-fin-a-la-gratuite-de-l-eau,10351

Anita McSorley, “A sea of blue weaved through the capital demanding an end to water charges”, Independent, 11/10/2014, http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/a-sea-of-blue-weaved-through-the-capital-demanding-an-end-to-water-charges-30656347.html

Anita McSorley , “Thousands demonstrate against water charges”, Independent, 11/10/2014, http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/thousands-demonstrate-against-water-charges-30655896.html