Fitzmaurice opposes Cowen free water for all proposal

‘I cannot stand by and allow situation…where water can be wasted willy nilly without someone having to pay for it.’

Sligo councillor says Fianna Fail not to blame for charges.

Sligo News File

Michael Fitzmaurice’s call for the retention of water charges will most probably fall on deaf ears.

Michael Fitzmaurice, TD
Roscommon -South Leitrim

The Independent Roscommon TD asserts that everyone should have to pay for usage above an agreed allowance.

However, his statement omits to mention that people have been doling out for piped water ever since VAT was increased years ago to pay for the service. He also fails to mention that householders served by group schemes were entitled to receive 49,500 gallons annually free of charge for domestic usage.

What then is his beef about the Exchequer – towards which every taxpayer in contributing – continuing to pick up the bill for the country’s water services?

It seems from what he has to say that his concern is water wastage. He doesn’t elaborate as to what he considers is wastage; instead, he takes issue with a comment of Fianna Fail spokesman Barry Cowen who proposed that people should be allowed to use whatever amount of water they liked without penalty.

“That’s just ludicrous and makes no absolutely sense,” says Fitzmaurice – in spite of the fact Cowen has not said people should be free to waste supplies. 

He grumbles, “where are we going to get the 10 billion Euro that we need to spend on the system into the future?” His statement does not identify the ‘bookkeeper’ who came up with that figure or the period to which the €10 billion relates. It rings fanciful, especially so if the service were to be operated efficiently and with just the required number of workers on board.

He states that as an opposition TD he will not be popular for saying what he has said “but I cannot stand by and allow a situation to come about where water can be wasted willy nilly without someone having to pay for it.”

He is, of course, free to agree with himself. But it is the people who will decide, and in street protests, they have already spoken and demonstrated in the hundreds of thousands that charges or metering on any account is out of the question.

Cllr. Tommy MacSharry, Fianna Fail

Meanwhile, over in Sligo, Fianna Failer Tommy MacSharry has locked horns with his Fine Gael colleague Tony McLoughlin over which party introduced water charges.

As it happens, McLoughlin is correct, Fianna Fail were the instigators of the water charges when they agreed to roll out the levies in a pact with the Troika. Fianna Fail also agreed to establish what is now the Irish Water utility. As well, the party hammered rural dwellers with provisions for water charges when charges for water had been abolished in town and cities of the country. They also went on to press Sligo County Council to meter the water supplies of rural group water users – and to charge for the meters.  

Tony McLoughlin, TD,
Fine Gael, Sligo-Leitrim

Obviously, Fine Gael are not entirely blameless. They implemented the charges and metering which Fianna Fail signed up to in the deal with the Troika. No kudos, therefore, are owed to either lot. Additionally, both parties in government have played a huge part in busting the balls of the rural economy.

Bill to permit half a million foreign residents to vote in Dail elections

Those entitled to vote will not need to be citizens of the State.

Representation ‘would be the equivalent of 18 Deputies.’

Sligo News File Online

Half a million foreigners would be allowed a vote in Dail and European elections if a Bill rolled out today is passed.

The bill piloted through the Dail by left-wing TD Ruth Coppinger

Ruth Coppinger, TD

also provides that those entitled to vote will not need to be citizens of the country.

Known as the Electoral (Extension of Voting Rights to Non-Irish Citizens) Bill 2017, the legislation is designed to extend voting rights in elections to Dail Eireann and the European Parliament “to all adults ordinarily resident in the State.”

Coppinger said, “We are proposing the Bill because there are 500,000 people living in this country who are not citizens.

“These people live and work in our communities, and their children go to our schools. They pay taxes to the State and are affected by all of the national decisions taken in this House, yet most are not permitted to vote in elections to the national Parliament, which sets the taxes that they pay, the laws that they must live by and the policies around key issues such as employment rights, wage rates, education, health and housing.”

According to the 2011 census, almost 12% of the State’s population is made up of people who are not citizens of the State. These people are not represented although their representation would be the equivalent of 18 Deputies, she said.

Highlighting that almost 23% of those living in her constituency were not born in the country, she said: “18% of its population is made up of people who are not citizens, and 16% of Africans and 9.3% of Asians in the State live in Fingal.”

She said, “26.4% of 25-year-olds to 44-year-olds are not citizens of this country.”

The figures will come as a surprise to an electorate that is being regularly told that access to the country and job market is tightly controlled. Thousands of young Irish people cannot secure a job, while wage rates for more are at rock bottom owing to competition from cheap labour sources.

Coppinger says it’s her view non-nationals should have the right to keep their citizenship and not have to take on Irish citizenship to vote.

I am mindful, she said, that our Bill would not give people a right to vote in referendums, “as this would require a constitutional change, but it should be considered.

“If we can point to countries that allow this such as New Zealand, where people who are resident there for a year are allowed to participate fully and to have full voting rights. We should do the same because we have a huge problem. When we look around the Chamber, we see that we have a very white, male and older representation. This will not change unless we give people the right to participate fully in this democracy.”

In response to Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl who asked if the Bill was opposed, Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach Regina Doherty replied No.