Dermot Looney, a Labour Party candidate in the Tallaght Central ward in June’s local election, has challenged candidates in the election to state where they stand on the issue of water charges. The call comes in light of Minister John Gormley’s claim that the re-introduction of water charges was ‘inevitable.’ The claim was made by the Green Party Minister in a speech to the Academy of Engineering Institute on Tuesday, April 28th.
Domestic water rates were scrapped by 1997 (by the Labour Party) and despite hints at reintroduction by Fianna Fáil in the time since, water charges have remained off the agenda. But the latest statement by the Minister for the Environment suggest that working people, already lashed through crises in jobs, public services and the economy as a whole, are again in the line of fire through water taxation.
“I oppose the reintroduction of water charges,” Looney said. "So does the Labour Party."
“Resource struggles for water, particularly in the context of climate change, are hitting headlines across the world. But this latest statement by Minister Gormley shows the huge gap in philosophy between the Green Party and the Labour Party on how best to go forward; the Greens look at water as a commodity to be rationed, while Labour views it within the rights framework. We believe that everybody has the right to free, clean and safe water provided, not through private companies, but accountable public utilities. Water should be paid for through general taxation, not in the form of a regressive stealth tax.”
“From talking to hundreds of people every week on doorsteps and elsewhere I know that working people are very concerned with the possibility of another stealth tax. Those on the left in this election are on record as opposing the water tax. I am giving a personal commitment to oppose it if elected as a Councillor. Now it’s up to all other candidates – particularly those in Fianna Fáil and the Greens - to come clean and state, as a matter of public record, whether they will vote with us to oppose water charges.”