Water charges are as contentious as ever - both inside and outside public meeting

Brian Greene, Peter Kelly, Jimmy Leavy and Michael Connellan pictured at the public information meeting on the introduction of water charges last Thursday in the Longford Arms Hotel.  Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
Proving that the issue of water charges is certainly not going away, an event organised by Longford Fianna Fáil last week on the subject attracted a sizeable crowd - both inside and outside the Longford Arms.

Proving that the issue of water charges is certainly not going away, an event organised by Longford Fianna Fáil last week on the subject attracted a sizeable crowd - both inside and outside the Longford Arms.

The event, which was organised by the local branch of Fianna Fáil focused on the impact the new water charges would have on domestic, commercial and agricultural use. Information on how to fill out the necessary forms was also provided.

Guest speakers on the night included Pat O’Rourke, Barry Cowen TD, and Dermott Jewell, CEO of the Consumers Association of Ireland, who outlined the rights of the consumer when it comes to water charges.

At the event, a large number of Fianna Fáil councillors and activists were joined by some members of the public to discuss the issue of water charges, how to fill in the Irish Water forms, among other issues.

Outside the Longford Arms Hotel, approximately 30 people gathered as part of a protest against water charges.

The protest was spearheaded by the Longford Says No campaign.

The key message of ‘Longford Says No’ is that water is so contaminated in Ireland, it is morally wrong to charge for it.

“The politicians have called a public meeting to help people to fill out forms,” Elaine Farrell, spokesperson, Longford Says No, told the Leader. “We already pay €1.2 billion per year for water in our general taxes and there is a generation of people in this country who have been frightened into submission.

“You cannot get blood from a stone and we won’t pay.”

‘Longford Says No’ was established in 2013 to voice their opposition to Government austerity measures.

“100,000 people showed their anger towards water charges in Dublin last week and we are holding our own march here in Longford on November 1,” Ms Farrell continued.

“Our water is not safe to drink. It is fluoridated and therefore toxic, and is dangerous for animals to drink, never mind humans,” she claimed.

On Saturday, November 1, marches are being held throughout Ireland to protest about the water charges issue. In Longford, the protest will march from the Battery Road to the Market Square starting at 2pm.

“We want as many people as we can get to come out on that day and show this Government that we will not stand for this,” added Ms Farrell.

“Businesses are closing and more and more people are becoming unemployed; we can’t pay and we won’t pay, it is as simple as that.”