State is losing on Water Charges

Dr Groove (
Fri, 25 Oct 1996 14:55:26 +0000

Water Charges
14,000 join campaign

by Conor Mc Loughlin
Co-ordinating Committee member
Federation of Dublin Anti-Water Charges Campaigns
personal capacity

AS the campaign against the water charges approaches
it's second anniversary, it continues to go from strength
to strength. We now have over 14,000 signed up
members and there hasn't been a disconnection of a
campaign member since November 1994. The rate of
non-payment continues at a very high level in all areas.
At a residents' meeting in Cherryfield Fianna Fail's Cllr.
Sean Ardagh declared that only 17% of people in South
Dublin had paid in full.

In the circuit court on June 20th lawyers for South
Dublin Council declared that there were proceedings
pending against 32,000 households. About 46,000 are
eligible to pay so this puts the rate of non-payment at
70%. Whatever the real rate it is now obvious that the
charges are becoming uncollectable.

The council are still dragging non-payers to court.
However the first appeal against disconnection in the
Circuit Court was heard on June 29th and the
disconnection order was struck out. Although the
campaign has very little faith in the courts this victory
means that South Dublin council have had to suspend
all cases until after a Supreme Court appeal in the late

Within the campaign the Workers Solidarity
Movement has argued that reliance should not be placed
on either the capitalist courts or politicians to sort things
out. Right now we need to keep up the pressure by
picketing the clinics of local politicians and having mass
pickets outside the estimates meetings, as well as
maintaining the very high levels of non-payment.

Already in June there was a very successful picket of a
South Dublin Council meeting in their nice new
Tallaght offices, with 200 noisy demonstrators laving the
councillors in no doubt about the anger against this
double tax.


Unfortunately the May conference of the Federation
passed, by a large majority, a motion committing the
campaign to endorsing candidates in Dublin
constituencies in the next election. The WSM believes
that this strategy is incorrect. As we argued in our
special leaflet and from the conference floor, this means
a fundamental change of direction for the campaign.

To run a successful election campaign would divert
resources from the tactics that have worked up to now.
Anarchists believe elections are a clever form of
disempowerment giving people the illusion that they
have a say in the way things are run. Up to now the
campaign was giving people a sense of their own
strength, rebuilding a feeling of community and
solidarity in parts of Dublin. All this will be wasted if
elections become the major focus of the campaign.

Instead of taking control of their own struggle, non-
payers would be expected to vote for politicians and then
sit at home passively hoping that one or two 'radical'
TDs would sort out the problem. Needless to say, while
continuing to put a lot of work into building the non-
payment campaign, we won't be taking part in any
election related activities!

We hope that the spirit of determination and
commitment to self-activity in the campaign will
continue until the charges are beaten, and into the
future to stop whatever the government tries to replace
them with.

              Noam Chomsky on Anarchism

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