Murphy warns of 2014-style mass protests if water charges are reintroduced

It follows a report that called on the Government to revisit the issue, in a review of Ireland’s environmental performance.
Murphy warns of 2014-style mass protests if water charges are reintroduced

By James Ward, PA

Paul Murphy has warned the Government that any attempt to reintroduce water charges will be met by the same mass protests seen in 2014.

It follows a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that called on the Government to revisit the issue, in a review of Ireland’s environmental performance.

Attempts to introduce metered water charges as part of the bailout programme were abandoned in 2014, after numerous mass protests.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy, one of the leaders of the anti-water charges protests, has warned the Government of a repeat of those scenes if they heed the OECD advice.

He told the PA news agency: “We’re putting the Government on notice that if they attempt to use the OECD report to kind of greenwash and reintroduce water charges, then they will face an almighty movement, like they did before.

“Hundreds of thousands of people on the streets, mass non-payments. They will be making a very, very grave political mistake to go down that road again.

He added: “Reeling In The Years was on on Sunday night. The Government would be well advised to watch it and bear that in mind.

“The same anger against austerity, against privatisation still exists now. People simply would not take kindly to any attempt to introduce water charges.”

The OECD report advised that Government should “assess whether the funding model for water services is sufficient to cover the high investment costs and whether introducing household water charges would be appropriate”.

Ireland is the only one of the 37 OECD member countries that does not have water charges.

The report noted a decline in water quality in lakes and rivers, which it linked to the slow pace of upgrades to wastewater treatment infrastructure.

The report advised the introduction of charges to accelerate investment in water supply and sanitation.

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