I will be supporting this motion (“That Dáil Éireann calls on the Government to abolish household water charges and fund investment in water and sanitation infrastructure through progressive taxation.”), indeed, I have signed it. People power strikes fear into the heart of the establishment. That is what has been happening over recent years through the Right2Water and Right2Change protests. Hundreds of thousands of people have protested locally and nationally over two years. They have brought about circumstances in which three out of every four people are refusing to pay water charges. Water charges are an austerity tax and represent double taxation.
At every hands turn, the establishment was expecting the movement would go away. It has not gone away. Last Saturday week, the marching of tens of thousands of people in Dublin sent a very strong message to the establishment, the Government and Fianna Fáil that we want abolition, not suspension. We want Irish Water abolished and a referendum to enshrine public ownership of water into the Constitution. Privatisation is the objective of the Government, as it was of the previous Government. It is the objective of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party and it has to be stopped. The agenda has been driven nationally and from Europe. We are now in a position in which a majority in this House is for the abolition of water charges. We should abolish them now, and do so through this motion this evening.
As I stated, the water tax is an austerity tax and is double taxation. It is particularly difficult for ordinary people, those on low incomes and those on social welfare payments. The majority who say they are opposed to water charges have an opportunity to vote in favour of this motion, which has been tabled by Sinn Féin and many Independent Deputies.