Thousands gather for national anti-water charges demonstration in Dublin

Water charges a ‘first victory of a mass movement in Ireland for a generation.’

Sligo News File Online

Protesters against water charges have again turned out en masse, testament to the unwavering scale of the countrywide resistance to the levies

Sligo Independent Socialist Councillor Declan Bree and members of Sligo anti-water charges group who took part in today’s demonstration in Dublin.

Upwards of 20,000 it’s estimated took to the streets of the capital to vent their opposition to the detested charges.

Organisers reckon the figure would have been many times today’s turnout if regular bus services had been running.

Despite the absence of regular transport, however, vast numbers still managed to travel from towns and rural areas to take part in the march.

Mary Lou McDonald, TD, Deputy Leader, Sinn Fein

If Ministers had been hoping that opposition to the levies had eased since previous demonstrations, today’s protest has conclusively shown that anger and resentment over the charges and metering is as powerful and widespread as ever.

The frequently invoked threat of EU sanctions and Ministerial warnings of massive fines if the people of Ireland refuse to submit to the tyranny of charges clearly isn’t frightening the country. Indeed, if there is fear anywhere it has to be in Government circles where Ministers must now know that their days as an Administration is rapidly rolling to an end.

There is no love lost between them and a sizeable part of the electorate.

Speakers at today’s march included TDs Paul Murphy and Joan Collins, and representatives from the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), currently involved in strike action with Bus Éireann.

Ruth Coppinger, TD.
Irish Anti-Austerity Alliance.

Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald said, “Water charges were agreed by Fianna Fáil and imposed by Fine Gael. They thought citizens would roll over. They were wrong.

“The Right2Water campaign won the argument on the streets. We won the battle at the ballot box last year and your Right2Water TDs won the argument at the committee this week.”

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger said that the point of the demonstration was to get the message to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that people did not want water charges.

“We’re on the verge of a really important victory for ordinary people in this country.”

Paul Murphy, TD,
Irish Socialist Party

It’s the first victory of a mass movement in Ireland for a generation, she said.

Campaigners are also demanding a referendum to ensure that water services will never be privatised.

Sligo County Council lauded for its resolve on fracking

Fracking: ‘Ireland first State in the world to divest its sovereign wealth fund of fossil fuel holdings.’

Sligo News File Online.

Sinn Fein has praised Sligo County Council on its decision to stick by the ban on fracking.

Lynn Boylan
Lynn Boylan MEP,
Sinn Fein

 

Party MEP Lynn Boylan said the councillors “refused to bow to a recommendation of the authority’s chief executive Ciaran Hayes” to remove the prohibition from the new county development plan.

She said:

“I applaud the decision of Sligo County Councillors to maintain their opposition to fracking in the Draft County Development Plan 2017-2023. This process of extracting shale gas by pumping millions of litres of fracking fluid — i.e. water mixed with sand — into a well in order to create cracks in shale formations, is highly polluting. A wide range of toxic chemical additives (1-2% of the total volume) is added to this fracking fluid to ease the operation of the well for the oil or gas company.

“In a State where water has been a major bone of contention for some years now, it is worth noting that fracking wastes and pollutes enormous volumes of water.

 

 


“Ireland this year became the first State in the world to divest its sovereign wealth fund of fossil fuel holdings. The Dáil has already voted to support a private members bill to ban fracking, a measure that is now before a select committee.

“When it becomes law, the Bill will prohibit the extraction of oil and gas from areas where it would need to be fracked to be taken out of the ground such as the shale deposits across Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, Clare, Limerick, Cork and Kerry.

“In the North, we have also managed to keep the fracking lobby at bay. What Ireland requires is a future powered by clean, renewable energy, not dirty, polluting fossil fuels. We cannot allow any backsliding on the progressive decisions made by our elected representatives in the last six months.”

To emphasise the dangers posed by hydraulic fracturing, she will be hosting a briefing for Oireachtas members in Leinster House from Food and Water Watch US on the disastrous environmental impact of fracking in the United States. The briefing is scheduled for 13 June 2017.

Courts don’t compile statistics on drink-driving sought by TD – Fitzgerald.

Assembling statistics ‘would be a highly complex process, requiring substantial effort and involving a disproportionate amount of staff.’

Financial cost arising from the necessity to engage external support providers.

Sligo News File Online.

Transport Minister Shane Ross has said that drivers under 44 accounted for 70% of intoxicated drivers in 2015.

More than 80% of them were male, he said.

Justice Minister
Frances Fitzgerald, TD
Minister for Justice

But when the Court service was asked about the number of drink driving offences listed in each court area, it couldn’t come up with the information.

That’s according to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

In a parliamentary question, a TD asked her about the number of driving offences listed in the courts in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Deputy Thomas Broughan also sought details of the number of offences that were “not finalised,” were adjourned, appealed, set aside or the subject of bench warrants.

Fitzgerald told him the Courts Service had informed her that “court statistics are not compiled in such a way as to provide the information sought.”

She said that to obtain the information sought, “if, indeed, it would be possible to do so, would be a highly complex process, requiring substantial effort and involving a disproportionate amount of staff time and a financial cost arising from the necessity to engage external support providers.”

Ross doesn’t appear to have identified the source for claims that in 2015 70% of intoxicated drivers were under 44. Nonetheless, he has gone on to argue that his proposals for an automatic driving ban on first-time offenders will prevent thirty-five deaths on the roads.

Under current measures, driving bans are only imposed for first offences above the 80mg per 100ml level. Where blood alcohol levels are below 50mg, a driver faces three penalty points and a fine of €250.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said drink driving statistics are “shoved down our throats.” Instead of concentrating on drink-driving, other causes of road accidents should be looked at.” In Kerry many road deaths were not in a car, he said.

Roscommon TD, Michael Fitzmaurice said, “Even if the drink-driving levels were set at zero, it is the lack of Gardai out on the beat and on the roads that are the problem.

“Another major cause of serious accidents, especially in rural areas are defective roads but,” he said, “we have heard no announcements of funding to carry our repairs on these dangerous roads.

Remarking further on the Ross proposals, he said, “It might be more in his line to sort out the problems at Bus Eireann and secure a proper budget for the repair of the roads, and these things would have far more of a positive impact on the situation and on rural Ireland in particular.”