Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Press Release: Cllr Looney Welcomes Water Charge Opposition on South Dublin Council, Slams FF Support

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council (SDCC), has welcomed the decision of the 26-member Council to oppose the re-introduction of domestic water charges. Looney was commenting in the wake of a 21-2 vote in favour of his motion at November’s Council meeting on Monday evening, which won support from members of all parties with the exception of Fianna Fáil.

Looney’s motion proposes that the “Council opposes the introduction of domestic water charges and favours, instead, a combination of water conservation and education measures and a genuinely progressive taxation regime which adequately resources local government.”

During the debate, the Tallaght Central Councillor noted that water charges were no longer aspirational and it was a question of when, not if, the government would try to force the double tax through. “We all agree in the need to conserve water and ensure its careful use,” noted Cllr Looney in proposing the motion. “But doing so through the tax system, as proposed, highlights the difference between those like myself, who view water as a basic human right, and those like the Greens, who see water as a scarce commodity that should be rationed regardless of the social cost.”

“Such a departure will be viewed as a tasty opportunity for profit by large multinationals who will lick their lips at the drip-drip to water privatisation. Furthermore, claims by Council management that such a tax might only cost in the region of €250 a year are misleading. Mary Hanafin’s quote in the Irish Times from December 12th 2007, that “families would be paying €700 or €800 per annum,’ is a more accurate reflection of the extra tax accruing under a water charges regime,” said Looney.

“Water charges will hit working people and those at the fringes of society hardest. The utterly regressive way in which the government have proposed their introduction – in which each household will have a flat allowance and will be forced to pay for all water use above that allowance – does not take into account the diversity of water requirements for types of households, or the different water use regimes for larger families, families with young children, those who may be incontinent or require other water use due to illness, disability or other needs.”

“I am delighted that my motion has passed and that this Council, representing more than a quarter of a million people in South Dublin, has taken a stand in support of water as a human right, and not a commodity to be played with. I am also glad to see that most other parties have also taken a stance opposing the water tax, although it was not surprising to see two out of four Fianna Fáil Councillors vote in favour, and their two colleagues choosing to leave the Chamber shortly before the vote.”

“Unfortunately, due to the lack of power afforded to local Councils, we in South Dublin don’t have the power to stop water charges being introduced unilaterally by the Government – but they won’t come here if we have anything to say about it,” finished Looney.