Paul Murphy TD
A lot of people are on facebook saying that a bill has been passed which legalizes robbery of the water charges from wages and welfare. That’s not accurate – it’s really important we don’t scare ourselves into a defeat here.
Four key facts:
1. The new bill does NOT allow water charges to be taken from social welfare, wages or pensions without two court cases first.
2. The first of those court cases can’t start until you owe €500 – which means the end of 2017 at the earliest.
3. Before then, we have a general election, where if we have built non-payment, the next government will be under immense pressure to abolish.
4. Even if we get to 2017, and we haven’t won yet – they can only bring a tiny fraction of non-payers to court if we stand together. Those court cases (like in the 1990s, when there were hundreds of cases, and they didn’t break non-payment) will become a focal point for protest and political pressure against the government.
What was passed second stage in the Dail today (it’s still not law) is outrageous. But it is not capable of breaking non-payment and it’s a lot less than what the government tried to pretend they could do.
This is still nothing like the property tax. In the property tax, Revenue simply reached into your pay packet or social welfare or pension and took it off you, forcing you to pay.
Here, the legislation does not apply until you owe at least €500. Then you have to be taken to court twice before they can take it off you. That means no court cases until 2017! What’s between now and 2017? A general election. So people can still safely boycott with no penalties up until beyond the general election. In that way, they build maximum pressure on all the parties and the next government to abolish it.
Even if we got to 2017, how many of us can they realistically bring to court? Even if only 33% didn’t pay, that’s 500,000 households. Can they bring half of them to court? No. Can they bring 10% of them to court? No. Can they bring 1% of them to court? No. They could only bring a tiny fraction of those 500,000 to court, where they would be entitled to fully contest Irish Water’s rights.
There were hundreds of court cases in the 1990s battle against water charges. They didn’t break non-payment. Instead, the court cases became a focal point for protest and political pressure and mobilised people. The same would happen again here (if we get that far!)
So please, let’s stand together and spread confidence over fear, based on the accurate information. No deductions from income without two court cases. No court cases until 2017. No serious blow to non-payment.