“Sweeteners or bribes” will not address water charge concerns – Adams
Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has said that “sweeteners or bribes” would not address the concerns of the hundreds of thousands of water charge protestors who had taken to the streets in recent weeks and that what was required was for the Government to “scrap the water charges”.
He accused the Taoiseach of treating the Dáil with contempt and of “governing by press release” and asked Mr Kenny if, as the Taoiseach claimed, government plans did not envisage the privatisation of water services, if he would support a Sinn Fein Bill which would prevent privatisation.
Addressing the Taoiseach in Dáil this afternoon Gerry Adams said:
“Taoiseach, over the past three years you have treated the Dáil with contempt. You rammed through the Water Services Bill, used the guillotine, suppressed debate and caused a walkout of opposition TDs.
“Despite your promises of political reform, you persistently fail to provide important information to the Dáil. Instead you make any important announcements to the media. You have presided over three years of government by press release.
“Hard-pressed families have been waiting and worrying for months now about the water bills that you are preparing for them. Despite countless questions put to you in the Dáil, you have provided no clarity on this issue.
“Instead, you have created a dense fog of confusion by your continuous media briefings. These quote conflicting figures. This has increased the stress and anxiety on householders.
“Last week, once again, you refused to answer straight questions from me regarding the water tax fiasco. The Tánaiste refused to answer questions on this issue from Teachta Mary Lou McDonald. Yet, over the past number of days you engaged in a media offensive about your intentions in relation to water charges.
“Taoiseach, why do you and your Ministers persist in refusing to give any answers to the Dáil on the water tax issue, yet you are clearly prepared to leak detailed proposals to weekend newspapers?
“Will you now outline for the Dáil and for citizens the details of your water tax proposals? And if, as you claim, the Government’s plans do not envisage the privatisation of water services, will you support the 34th Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2014, which Sinn Féin has put forward, and which seeks to ensure: ‘the right of all persons to sufficient, safe and accessible water’ and ‘that water services and infrastructure remain in public ownership’?”
Mr Adams said it was very clear is that the reason for the Taoiseach’s “twisting, turning and contradictory statements” was that he underestimated the determination of ordinary citizens to resist the imposition of water charges:
“You have been forced to back down again and again on your plans. After six years of relentless austerity you thought, wrongly, that citizens would not offer the level of resistance we have witnessed.
“Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets on this issue. But Taoiseach, you still don’t get it. This mass demonstration of ‘people power’ was not demanding a lowering of the amount you intend to charge for domestic water. The people want you to scrap water charges. No amount of sweeteners or bribes will change this.
“Last week I asked you to set out the government’s position on the use of Revenue and the Department of Social Welfare to go after citizens who cannot pay your water tax. You failed to answer my question. The Tánaiste also failed to answer the same question from Teachta Mary Lou McDonald.”