Irish Water Taxes. Russell Brand The Trews (E254).
Protesters in Ireland were arrested for protesting against high water taxes and bills.
According to RT, after three days of “heavy handed” dawn raids on the homes of Irish anti-austerity activists, a protest was held outside the Irish embassy in London on Wednesday.
The demonstration was organized after 11 Irish “anti-water charges” campaigners were arrested, detained and questioned by police. The campaigners in question say they were arrested on unreasonable grounds.
Among those hauled into police custody were socialist TD (MP) Paul Murphy, and leftist Dublin councilors Mick Murphy and Kieran Mahon.
All three men are public representatives of Ireland’s Anti-Austerity Alliance, which has campaigned against the Irish government’s debt repayment strategy to international and EU creditors. Following several hours of questioning, they were released.
Does this remind anyone of Detroit?
“A U.N. visit was prompted by July protests in Detroit that resulted in multiple arrests, and the Motor City is not alone in kicking off over water: more than 50,000 protesters took to the streets in Dublin last week, carrying placards denouncing the ‘Ministry of Thirst’ and decrying a plan to levy fees for water service,” according to The Guardian.
After a three-day fact-finding mission in the city of Detroit from Oct. 18-20, two U.N. Special Rapporteurs issued a scathing indictment of all levels of government for violations of international human rights in allowing massive water shut-offs to take place in the city of Detroit.
The report by Catarina de Albuquerque, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, and Leilani Farha, U.N. Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, stated: “Detroit is undergoing large-scale water disconnections. This year alone, at least 27,000 households have had their services disconnected. … The utility has passed on the increased costs of leakages due to an aging infrastructure onto all remaining residents by increasing water rates by 8.7 percent. This, combined with the decreased number of customers, and increased unemployment rate, has made water bills increasingly unaffordable to thousands of residents in Detroit living under the poverty line, according to Workers World.
Ireland is currently the only country in the OECD that does not charge citizens for water usage [pdf], a distinction that will change in January 2015 with the implementation of meters and fees.
Elsewhere, privatization of water service is causing strife in many cities, according to The Guardian. In Sao Paolo, Brazil, privatization coupled with drought has interrupted water service to half the city’s residents, particular those living on the outskirts, according to protesters who have been demonstrating since August. “We are paying for water, but receive air,” read one poster carried in a rally this summer.
The episodes echo the 2000 protests over privatisation in Cochahamba, Bolivia, in which police used tear gas against rioters. At least one person died in the violence. And in July of this year indigenous people in Ecuador protested against a new law that withdraws their right to administer their own water sources.
It is not only privatization that concerns people: so does exporting water. In Marfa, Texas this summer, residents protested against the city’s decision to sell water to fracking companies. They mobilized in the streets and parked cars and trucks in front of fire hydrants as a symbol.
California has also seen protests in recent years in the face of drought and cuts in the water supply.