We cannot trust the pro-privatisation agenda of Fine Gael - Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin spoke this evening during Private Members Business on a proposal to put to referendum an amendment to Bunreacht na hÉireann to ensure that Uisce Éireann would remain in public ownership.
Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:
“Clean, safe drinking water is a fundamental right. We in Sinn Féin believe that it should be paid for by fair and progressive general taxation. It is vital that our public water services remain in public ownership.
“We cannot trust the pro-privatisation agenda of Fine Gael or their new found friends in Labour with such an important resource. We know that Fianna Fáil also supported introducing water charges. In fact it was they who originally agreed with the troika to introduce them.
“Uisce Éireann’s now “sweetened” water tax, or water tax light, represents a foot in the door. As we have seen before, these charges will also go up and up. The fact that the Government has made some concessions shows that they can be reversed. We now need to go further and ensure that the charges are abolished altogether.
“And what of the very many people who have to use increased amounts of water directly related to their and their family’s medical conditions? As Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Health I must say that I am disappointed that there is, as yet, no clarification on the issue of subsidised or exempt bills for those with certain medical conditions.
“There has also been also an attempt to delegitimise and vilify those who have protested against the water charges. The peaceful protesters are to be commended. Sinn Féin stood shoulder to shoulder with trade unionists and other progressives in the Right2Water campaign. We are proud that this campaign has been able to mobilise some 150,000 people onto the streets.
“Most people see the Government commentary of recent days as an ill-disguised attempt to frighten people away from exercising their right to protest. So make no mistake, we are calling for the biggest possible mobilisation on December 10th to demonstrate the people’s continued widespread opposition to water charges and we want it to be both a dignifies and a peaceful mobilisation, one that will truly deliver a clear message to this Government.
“The Irish people cannot accept the further water tax as it is anything but what the Government describe it” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.