Monthly Archives: November 2014

Statement from Communities Against Water Charges


We Won’t Back Down

On Monday the 24 November 2014 we expect four of our friends and neighbors to be committed to prison for exercising their right to peaceful protest. They are to be punished for failing to abide by a High Court injunction granted to GMC Sierra which requires them (and any other protester) to, among other things, remain at least 20 meters away from workers installing unwanted water meters.

This injunction, in spite of the High Court Judges claims to the contrary, obliterates any meaningful right to protest against the installation of water meters. For that reason protesters throughout Dublin, and the rest of the country, have rejected this illegitimate interference with their right to protest, and have continued their dignified resistance to the installation of water meters, and the water charges regime.

This injunction, and the expected imprisonment of our friends and neighbors on Monday, represents another attack on the people of this country, and on the right to peacefully resist and oppose the unjust policies of an unrepresentative government. In the coming weeks and months, we expect the establishment to engage in many more attacks on our movement, using the law as one of its main instruments.

For this reason, we have been working with groups around the country on building legal defence funds: this is a collective struggle for our basic rights and a better future. For that reason, any person that ends up in court for resisting this illegitimate tax and attempt to commodify the most basic of necessities, needs to know that they will not be alone, and we will stand with them. We therefore call on the Right2Water Campaign, its affiliated unions and the political parties that have stated their opposition to the water charges, to contribute what they can to the Peoples Defence Funds.

If, as feared, our friends are imprisoned on Monday we are calling for a mass, silent candlelight vigil outside of the prison they are committed to (most likely Mountjoy Prison in Dublin).

As the struggle against this unjust double-tax enters a new phase, and a beleaguered government begins to lash out with all of the means at its disposal, we will make it abundantly clear that fear will not carry the day in this contest, and that nobody who stands against this injustice will stand alone.

Communities Against Water Charges


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Real Democracy: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

This is an extended version of a comment I left on the Irish Times website in response to an article by Fintan O’Toole, which is titled What’s the Big Idea? It’s time for the State to consider a real democracy.


It’s timely that Fintan O’Toole should be writing about the idea of real democracy on exactly the same day that Fine Gael Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan conjures up the image of a “vast majority” of anti-water charges protesters “led by forces who have no regard for democracy”.

What Flanagan’s perspective illustrates is the prevailing attitude towards democracy on the part of Ireland’s political elites. The mass public opposition to water charges does not emerge from a sense of injustice or from a sense of anger at being made to pay once again for the corruption and greed of Ireland’s political and economic elites. No: it is because protesters and by extension the people at large do not know their own mind, they are easily led, and the government always know best.

If we are going to talk about real democracy, then we should be talking about the concentration of political and economic power. How is it, for instance, that GMC Sierra, the company tasked with installation of Irish Water meters, is owned by the same individual who is also the key shareholder in Independent News and Media, as well as a host of national radio stations? The fact that a billionaire can exercise such influence over public affairs is incompatible with real democracy. In fact, the idea that some people can be billionaires whilst others live in situations of deprivation and poverty is entirely at odds with the idea of democracy that has been fought for by countless millions since the 19th century, in the Easter Rising, in the Spanish Civil War, and in the Second World War. None of this, of course, troubles Charlie Flanagan or the rest of his party, who supported the fascists when they were running rampant. Nor the Labour Party, for that matter.

We should also be talking about how Ireland’s political parties have a very dubious track record, not just in terms of their general attitude, but also in terms of legislation when it comes to matters of censorship and free speech. Even more important, the prevailing idea of democracy in Ireland is that the only truly legitimate form of participation in democratic political life is voting every now and again, and in the space between one election and the next it is a matter of submitting to the will of the Cabinet, or the Economic Management Council, with just enough farcical attempts at public consultation to get over the hump of occasional opposition.

What is more, it is also clear that Ireland’s political, economic and media elites have no interest in extending the idea of democracy into the economic realm, whether in terms of material equality and dignity, or in terms of collective ownership of vital resources or the means of production. Democracy by their lights means that the economic realm should be kept separate from political intervention, except when it’s a matter of suppressing the rights of workers, of stripping away entitlement to health, education and welfare supports, of prioritising the financial sector over the interests of the population at large, and of sending in the police to batter protesters.

So, the first step, then, in talking about real democracy, is to recognise that what passes for democracy, right now, is a complete fake. It means recognising that everyone has the right to participation in political life and to a decent and fulfilled life. And it means realising that the representation of the public as unthinking violent hordes has to be brought to an end. Recent days have shown that Ireland’s elites are not up to such tasks. In fact, they are dedicated to frustrating them, and they are therefore the major obstacle to the ‘real, vibrant, engaged, republican democracy‘ that Fintan O’Toole quite rightly advocates.

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Socialism For The Rich in Jobstown


‘Socialism for the rich’ became a popular phrase in recent years. It refers to the way the rich have all kinds of mechanisms for mutual support and solidarity, and the way this is reflected in government policy.

The vast machinery of speculation owned by the wealthy was saved, and at the expense of those whose labour created their wealth. The astronomical debts racked up by private banks were loaded onto the backs of the working class. The latter would pay for them through wage cuts, longer working hours, cuts to vital public services and privatisation; and through the heightened exhaustion, stress, mental illness, unemployment, strained relationships. And a never-ending litany of tiny everyday personal humiliations, if people had the time and the means to recount them.

Neoliberalism seeks to demolish any form of collective solidarity that becomes an obstacle to the logic of the market. But it also seeks to develop forms of collective solidarity that embrace the market as the way, the truth, and the life.

Just as neoliberalism demonises those who become the obstacle, it mobilises common feelings of sympathy, respect and veneration for the demolition experts. CEOs, ‘entrepreneurs’, economists, personal finance experts, small business owners, first-time buyers, parents who only want the best choice of school for their children, consumers who want the best private health insurance policy for their needs: all these and more form part of neoliberalism’s community of the living and the dead.

Professional politicians are a special case: when they prove tough enough, brave enough, ambitious enough, to ram through legislation that serves the logic of the market, they are celebrated and welcomed. When they seem incapable of doing so, or when they get in the way, they are bitterly denounced.

The threat to this neoliberalism’s community of the living and the dead –since where we are now is always moving towards everything our forebears struggled to create- comes from the seething mob, from the begrudgers, from those lacking the intelligence to see the righteousness of the path neoliberalism lays out in front of us, and from those lacking the manners to respect the way things are done under neoliberal rule.

Although neoliberalism mobilises common antipathy towards the role of government, it is only the role of government in areas that support or maintain collective solidarity. In so far as government exercises its powers to enforce neoliberal rule, it will be viewed sympathetically.

Rebellious behaviour is encouraged under neoliberalism, provided it is rebellion in favour of the logic of the market, in favour of the general will of money. On the other hand, disloyalty to the State –the primary instrument of neoliberalism- is actively discouraged, and common sympathies are mobilised in the call for greater repression and surveillance.

In Jobstown, Dublin, on Saturday afternoon, a woman was confined to her car for two hours. Insults were shouted. A water balloon was thrown. The car was rocked back and forth, and people banged noisily on the roof of the car. Following Garda intervention, and negotiation among the protesters, the woman was allowed to leave.

On the scale of things, on the scale of the massive structural violence inflicted by austerity policies in Ireland, this was nothing. Nothing. That did not stop a host of figures from Ireland’s political and media establishment, but also a good deal of polite society, from weighing in against the protesters, with terms like “scum”, “mob”, “fascists” liberally cast around.

In this regard, Joan Burton is a beneficiary of socialism for the rich. The concern for her wellbeing is a product of the indignation felt by the rich –and those who identify with them- when they feel that one of their own has come under attack. They look at her and ask themselves what if it was them, or what if it was a member of their family. The sympathy is second nature.

By contrast, the protesters who surrounded the car are an amorphous, menacing swarm. They are not people like “us”; they are not brothers or sisters or people struggling to pay bills or people enduring any kind of humiliation or hardship who have found a common cause together. The fact that they have appeared in public view, that they have stopped the normal order and flow of things where those who rule are treated with respect and those who are ruled maintain a harmless distance, becomes cause for instinctive outrage.

The idea that they might be stopping the car, and even hurling insults or a water balloon, because the government represents the interests of the rich whilst expecting to be treated like dignitaries, is beyond the bounds of polite conversation and contemplation. Joan is right because the State is right because the markets are right and because we are right, and that is that, and anyone who disagrees is an enemy of democracy. This, as I was saying the other day, is what demophobia looks like.

The focus on the Socialist Party TD for the area, Paul Murphy, and on his role in the protests, is in keeping with this fear of the mob. What is outrageous about him, from this perspective, is not that he is an elected representative and hence not behaving like the genteel legislator he ought to be, but rather that he is from a relatively comfortable background. And as such, he is a traitor to the cause of socialism for the rich.

People from relatively comfortable places, according to this line of thinking, have no business finding common cause with people from Jobstown, since the latter do not know their own minds: people like him should become accountants and vote Labour and remain respectable members of society. And if people in places like Jobstown do irrupt into our line of vision, it isn’t because they have decided among themselves to mobilise because they have had enough, but because they have been led astray. They are there to be led; they are not there to take part in politics, and if the Gardaí have to batter them, well, that’s regrettable, but they’re just restoring proper order, after all.

And the trouble for Ireland’s political and media establishment, and also a good deal of polite society, is that this “mob” is not planning on going away soon. And deep down, they know it, and they are scared. Hence it is easier and more productive to focus on a single brick than to contemplate the crumbling foundations beneath them.


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Review: Lost Tribe of the Wicklow Mountains by Dave Lordan

Dave Lordan

Dave Lordan

Is there anything to be said for another poem?

This week the Irish government released a video to promote the 2016 commemorations of the Easter Rising. ‘Remember where we came from’, the captions implore, even though there is no reference to the Rising itself, nor those who took part in it.

The Rising is no longer a political event, but something to do with training children to sit in front of computers and having a multinational corporation as a superego.

If the 1916 protagonists have been kept out of our imagination as ruthlessly as Stalin ever did with Trotsky, other figures of note are still allowed to take their place alongside the Queen, David Cameron and Bob Geldof.

I’m referring to poets. Yeats is there, as is Beckett, as is Seamus Heaney. (Michael D Higgins and Martin McGuinness too, but not for their poems)

Ireland’s elite culture uses poets and their prestige as a kind of fireproof decoration. Whatever it is they have said or written, they are not going to get in the way. Phil Hogan, the mastermind behind Irish Water, even wanted Seamus Heaney to run for President of Ireland. From the perspective of rulers, poets are supposed to be figures of consensus and conciliation, not rebellion and confrontation, and the same should hold for their poems.

I’m not best placed to make pronouncements on what poets have to say about this, either in our outside their poems. I don’t read much poetry. I’d like to do more but I don’t have much time and never cultivated that much of a habit. I don’t really feel that comfortable writing about poems either. I remember reading somewhere that the only true response to a poem can come from another poem. I don’t know if that’s true, but it feels true.

Shouldn’t we worry about the fact that people like me –that is, most people around here- don’t read or listen to or talk about poems? What happens to our imagination, our collective sense of who we are, our historical memory, when literary culture and tradition becomes little more than an elite pursuit of distinction, or part of an elaborate national branding exercise?

It isn’t as if poetic constructions will cease to exist; they’ll just be used by assorted commissars for stimulating our consumer appetites and maintaining our allegiance to the flashing corporate logo above our head as we descend into confused nihilism.

Luckily for us, however, there is Dave Lordan.

In My mother speaks to me of suicide, one of the poems in his vital new collection, Lost Tribe of the Wicklow Mountains, the poet announces he is tired of the ‘public platitudes’ – ‘a plague, a scourge, an epidemic’- used to describe what happens when young people in Ireland annihilate themselves:

[…]Not medicine nor scripture
can explain it; suicide at Irish rates is self-destruction
as mass movement and tells us that the life we live
the all-of-us, here-and-now, has something
seriously wrong with it.

A friend of mine philosopher Juan Domingo Sánchez Estop, writes, after Spinoza, that every suicide is preceded by ‘a murder, by a transformation in the essence of the individual by an exterior cause that destroys him from the inside, like a cancer or an autoimmune disease’. But also, he writes, within the phenomenological description of suicide one can include the choice of death as a ‘lesser evil’.

Suicide is thus ‘the encounter of the individual with a destructive and invincible power’. In which case, he concludes, the option of death itself becomes an affirmation of life.

In this sense, what Dave Lordan names as “self-destruction as mass movement” can be thought of along the same lines as the conservation of dignity inherent in Seneca’s suicide or in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising:

A young man double-barrelly decapitating himself
in a cow shed;
the gun-roar submerged in the chaos of cows and machines.

A young man jumping into a fast-flowing river-
dead-cold-halt after zooming through
a three-day bender.

A young man jogging a dirt track leading up to a cliff,
then lepping off.

Crucial to Dave Lordan’s broader poetic approach to the social destruction told of in My mother speaks to me of suicide is the way he recognises something similar to what Juan Domingo Sánchez Estop describes here:

Though at times the only way of conserving one’s dignity is suicide, there often exists the possibility of rebelling alongside others, of recognising the wrongs we suffer in others. It is what is known as indignation. Indignation is a sadness, but it is a sadness that brings to light our social fabric, solidarity, community, and can even give rise to an empowerment of the individual when she becomes able to fashion alongside others, and in the face of a hostile power, a new reality that makes it possible to live.

Or, as Dave Lordan writes:

young men in Irish small towns and townlands,
suburbs and exurbs, flat-blocks and villages
are going to go right on killing themselves
until this life, this incredible life I adore
and which must not be wasted
be made worth living and living
and living again, for everyone.

It is this all-of-us, here-and-now that confronts certain young people as a destructive and invincible power. But if it is, what can you do about it? More to the point, what can poetry do about it? As Lordan writes in Lost Poem:

Who am I to instruct
a modern professional like you?

I’m poetry. I’m the thick
and endless forest of the lost.

What it can do, in Lordan’s hands at least, is confront this ‘all-of-us, here-and-now’ in its manifold guises.

Discover Ireland, the name for tourist initiatives that enjoin Irish people to get out and about and spend money across the country, is set in a slaughterhouse, in which ‘Ireland’ could be the entire operation itself, or the precarious migrant executioners slitting the cows’ throats on fear of penalty.

Or, it could be the ‘unstunned cow

kicking and bucking and butting
against the eighteen-inch blade,
even as the blood is being drawn

Spin starts off in polite contrast to the carnage of the abbatoir. Silence personified has taken hold, and it is silence doing the talking:

Would you just shut-up about the budget?
Nice things, why can’t we just talk about nice things?
The lovely hedgerows and lawns hereabouts. Butterflies.
Our far flung children, high achievers all.
Old country recipes. Recent sporting victories.
Weddings we have been to. Other public ceremonies.

But in this version of the all-of-us, here-and-now imposed by silence, we careen towards the social abbatoir where silence holds sway:

I am the broken promises factory skirting every Irish town.
I am the Hotel Empty. My rating is five black-holes.
I host the most magnificent cobwebs, prestigious cracks,
Glittering slug-trails, drafts of international importance.

And into oblivion:

Shhssh! Silence is packing us up in a jar,
Diving us down to her black uninhabited realm,
Roots that throttle us in wrecks, grey silt-weeds

This ‘black uninhabited realm’ sounds like the ideal place for the ‘morbid accountant’ poet of the aforementioned My mother speaks to me of suicide.

She calls and she calls and she tells and she tells,
as if she was the ledger of death self-inflicted
and I – her firstborn, the poet – a morbid accountant
who must reckon the substance, the meaning,
the worth of all this self-slaughter.

Against this silence, against this grim rationality, against a rootedness that asphyxiates, Lordan professes his faith, in the exhilarating title poem, in the realms where the human imagination flourishes, among the traces left by outcasts and rebels and apostates and the shadowy fringes of modern urban life.

It’s so righteous to stray.
It’s so good to abandon.
It’s so just to ascend
With the lost and forgotten

To summits the rooted
Cannot even imagine.

‘The rooted’: those frozen to the spot by the sense of obligation to tradition, convention, and silence. But if Dave Lordan is out to accompany the lost and forgotten to the highest peaks, he is also concerned with seeking them out, gathering them in. The poem Irish history locates those who might have built a different all-of-us, here-and-now:

[…]dying in dark visions and fits
in an abandoned industrial unit

on the outskirts of Manchester
with your rummaging Aberdeen girlfriend,

full of pills made in Hoxley and vintage vomit,
syphillis breeding with TB

inside you like those gigantic
Norvegicus that swam behind you

in the wake of your ferry,
Saint Patrick II.

And yet, despite the vistas of uncompromising cosmological bleakness, there is hope to be found, and Lordan locates it in the strangest and most familiar of places: within ourselves. The poem Hope addresses the reader or listener directly, in the sounds and syntax of a down-and-out, as though the reader or listener were the very personification of hope:

I know yuv a hundurd millin virgin spouses pushin’ up slums
an’ high-tech factories from underneath the battlefields.
Tis tuh the dead we can never repay yud mos jusly return,
them that rose an’ wuz crushed for yer dreamin’, the manygod
that manytimes gave ya generation. But I ain’t ready tuh let ya
go jus yet. So get up. Get up. I said GET THE FUCK UP!
An’ c’mere and give us a hug and give us a peck
on the cheek, and give us a drag on yer spliff.

The final poem in the collection, Love commands the neighbourhood, recalls William Blake’s The Divine Image in its injunction to love the human form in all its diverse states of fracture and disintegration and imperfect beauty.

What commands in the end, above all, is the mutual embrace of all those condemned to oblivion by a system in meltdown.

Love all those with a love like a grieving,

for they too are leaving, they too are going their way.

Close by there’s a man who stole through the barracks

after bombardment, collecting watches and teeth,

and a woman who walked out of a bomb. Love them.

Love as a refusal, love as a form of militant resistance. Perhaps poetry looks puny when considered alongside ‘the DJ’s billion-kilometre tongue‘ on the radio playing in Workmate, the formidable media apparatus that commands ecstatic erotic consent for sadistic violence upon the multitude of the poor. But in Dave Lordan’s hands this poetry raises our gaze, towards the summits to be conquered, where the realm of true freedom lies, an all-of-us, here-and-now of where the ‘everyday holy‘ is worshipped, and where communion is ‘sharing abundance’ . He does it with dazzling technique, accessibility and explosive power, and if you have any sense of humanity, you will read this collection.


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Demophobia and Letters to the Editor

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A few weeks back I was reading a piece by one of the main figures in Podemos, Juan Carlos Monedero. He wrote (my translation):

Back to Gramsci: we are all intellectuals. We all work with our intelligence. A teacher is no greater than a plumber or a stagehand (I have no doubt that the reverse can often be true). But some people hold the function of intellectuals and others do not. It is a matter of occupation. One specialises in one’s occupation. We all know about politics however and in democracy we must all have the right to speak up for ideas in public. That is why the letters to the editor are one of the most worthy sections of a decent newspaper. It is in the letters where you find the plain people [in Spanish, el pueblo llano, a direct cognate] writing (though the professionals of politics want to occupy that sphere too). They are a reflection of society, that is, unless they have been tampered with.

I was thinking about those lines when I read the one by Donna Hartnett in today’s Irish Independent. The letter has won a lot of public acclaim, and rightly so. Eloquent and moving, honest, resolute and defiant. A person at the end of her tether who turns the focus onto the everyday inhumanity of daily life in Ireland, and its consequences for children. The word infant –I learned this from one of Monedero’s books- means ‘unable to speak’. So it falls on others to speak for them. In this case, Donna Hartnett speaks for her children, confined like so many others to a regime that we prefer not to consider as inhuman, even though we know it is. But in so doing she ends up speaking for other people’s children, and for other people too.

“I’m one of the silent majority”, said a caller who supported the water charges on Liveline recently, oblivious to the irony. The “silent majority” are often the object of the worst form of populism: the one that claims to speak on behalf of the people so long as they appear to say nothing. Within that “silent majority” are over a million children under the age of 15, whose voice counts for nothing. Over 300,000 of them are living in enforced deprivation, but as Donna Hartnett’s letter suggests, that is not the full extent of the inhumanity by a long shot.

But it isn’t just children who are rendered without a voice by Ireland’s political and economic system. As the letter shows, it is their parents, guardians and carers too. It is a great many people for whom the day-to-day struggle to get on with things, to make ends meet, to keep a home on an even keel, renders them voiceless in the political arena. Then, when it comes to saying something, doing something, where do you start? Turn on the radio, any current affairs or talk show and all you hear about is how your problems are your responsibility and of your own making. Here are some guidelines from a psychologist or a personal finance expert or a careers specialist, now paddle your own canoe.

The crisis generated by Irish Water, and the unprecedented public mobilisation in response has exposed the ingrained condescension of Ireland’s party political machine. These people, they tell us, are being led astray by hard left agitators, by professional grievance merchants, by sinister fringes. Behind these utterances lies the conviction that the plain people have no mind of their own. They are, in short, infants. There is a Greek-derived word for this condition that grips people like Pat Rabbitte: demophobia.

If the Irish Water mobilisation has achieved anything, it is this: a realisation that we are not alone, that we are not condemned to isolation and private implosion. When I looked at social media responses to Donna Hartnett’s letter I saw the same word cropping up over and again: brave. But why should it be brave to say such things? What is it that prevents us from speaking out more, and louder? A sense of personal shame? A reluctance to disturb relations with others in our personal circles or workplaces that might be superficially friendly, but we sense are conditional on keeping quiet about uncomfortable things? These are questions, I imagine, that will never be probed too deeply in Ireland’s newspapers. Donna Hartnett’s letter will be repositioned in terms of tax cuts intended to maintain the status quo, or the squeezed middle, or family values, or governmental incompetence. I imagine attention will be diverted away from the root of the matter and in a few days balance will be restored to letters pages, with anxiously droll wordplay and pompous officialese flooding those spaces once again. It is on the streets in protests and in meetings on the grass verges of housing estates and on social media pages that the germ of a collective answer will most likely be found. And when it is found, that is when an audacious democratic awakening will take shape.

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Being Born In A Stable Doesn’t Make You A Horse: Stability and the Irish State


I left this comment on Fintan O’Toole’s article in today’s Irish Times, which is titled Losing its grip: why the Irish political system can no longer guarantee stability. I’ve amended the comment slightly by removing my use of the adjective ‘instable’, which apparently doesn’t exist. Yet.

We are led to imagine that stability is the same for everyone, that everyone has the same kind of stability, and that stability is a good thing in itself. But imagining such a thing leads us to ignore the fact that stability for some means instability for others. Stable profits, stable revenues, stable expectations for big business owners can correspond to unstable incomes, unstable living standards, unstable expectations and unstable relationships for the vast majority. Thus if the State provides stability –and let’s recall that ‘State’ and ‘stability’ share the same st- root, the first question is: stability for whom?

Horses are kept in stables, but that is not their natural habitat. That is, they are housed under control, for the purposes of those who use them. There is no reason to assume that this is what a horse wants. It may be trained to want such a thing, to rely on it, but that doesn’t mean it is as good as it gets for a horse, however much a horse owner might argue otherwise.

Perhaps this can tell us something about human beings. True, the fact that the State provides essential services, the fact that it guarantees certain entitlements, means that in many cases, a human being will be trained to look upon it as a useful and desirable thing, especially when the visible alternatives are much worse.

But is the State –the Irish State such as it is- as good as it gets for the broad mass of people in Ireland? Only if you believe that capitalism and class exploitation are as good as it gets. Well, as even Jack O’Connor knows, capitalism and democracy are now parting company. Thus a democratic consensus under capitalism becomes an increasingly remote aspiration. Fintan O’Toole describes this situation as ‘dangerous’: if this is true, who are the people posing the danger?

Either we have a society based on democratic rights, or we do not. It will not do to pretend that those demanding forms of democratic recognition are equally dangerous to those primarily served by the State since its inception: ranchers, bankers and political elites. If a new social consensus needs forging, it should be based on the principle that there are winners and losers in the current scenario, and that those roles need to be reversed. If that means certain people become exposed as enemies of democracy, too bad.

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Statement from Communities Against Water Charges

Resisting the Water Charges and Defending Our Right to Protest

We are residents of a number of communities in Dublin North East. Over the last number of months we have come together to resist the installation of water meters in our areas, and to oppose this unfair double taxation that the government calls water charges.

For most of us, this is the first time in our lives that we have engaged in any sort of protest and have only done so because we simply cannot take any more of this government’s austerity agenda. At all times we have sought to resist the installation of these meters in a peaceful, dignified and resolute manner.

We are therefore appalled at the recent developments in how An Garda Síochána have policed our protests, and with the blatant campaign to vilify and demonise us that the government and Gardai, supported by segments of the media, launched in recent days.

They have claimed that Gardai are routinely assaulted at protests, and that our movement has been infiltrated by a “sinister fringe” or by “dissident republicans”. We categorically reject these claims. In recent weeks we have been subjected to heavy handed and abusive policing by the Gardai. Men and women, protesting peacefully, have been pushed, pulled and punched by Gardai. To our knowledge not one of our fellow protesters has been convicted of assaulting a member of An Garda Síochána, and violent protest is not something we would endorse or tolerate.

With respect to the claim that our movement has been infiltrated by sinister elements, we reject this also. We are the people on the streets, day in, day out, peacefully resisting these meters; we are mothers, fathers, parents, pensioners, workers and unemployed – we are not sinister, dissident republicans.

In light of these developments, we are genuinely fearful that the Gardai, at the behest of the government, are preparing to become even more aggressive towards our protests and to eviscerate our right to protest.

We therefore call on all of the people of Ireland to come out and support us this coming Monday, 10 November 2014, in Dublin North East. We fear that GMC Sierra will attempt, with heavy Garda support, to enter our areas and install meters that we do not want. It is our intention to continue to resist this unjust tax in a peaceful and dignified manner, but we fear that the decision has been made to strip us of a meaningful right to protest.

Each and every one of us has resolved to resist this tax and these meters, we will continue to do so in a peaceful way, but if we are to succeed we need the support of other communities. If we all stand together, we can resist these charges, retain water as a public good and human right, and vindicate our right to protest.

Communities Against Water Charges
09 November 2014

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The John Murray Show on Irish Water: Regime Humour At Its Finest

I caught the John Murray radio show on RTE 1 this morning. It is on at 9am. For those fortunate enough not to know what it is, it is a ‘lively mix of entertainment, human interest and lifestyle’, presented by a former Government press secretary.

On this morning’s show the first feature was on Irish Water. It was introduced with Murray saying that they did not normally address such matters but given the public outcry, they thought it had to be covered.

Murray then began speaking with an ‘Irish Water’ spokesman. It was a parody of Irish Water’s communications problem, with the hapless spokesman giving increasingly absurd explanations regarding credits and allocations (you will be given credits in accordance with the number of cats you have since a cat can lick a man clean in 90 minutes, or something to that effect).

It was a classic example of Irish regime humour: humour that appears as subversive and anti-authoritarian on the surface, but in reality is crafted to reconcile the listener to the truth of the government position and elite common sense -in this case, the idea that the problem with Irish Water is merely one of communications- whilst leaving the real common concerns about Irish Water – the fact that people cannot pay and will not pay- out of the picture.

Following that ‘light-hearted look’, listeners were asked to text in their ideas about what they would be cutting back on whenever the water charges came in (ice in whiskey was one example given). Thus the introduction of water charges as a self-evident, inevitable, and unquestionable fact, a burden that affected everyone equally, to be borne with cheeriness and equanimity. One of the cast of Love/Hate, appearing on the show, was asked to indicate what she would be cutting back on when water charges came in. Not “if”, but “when“.

The spirit of the Irish Water feature on the John Murray Show was akin to the old World War I recruitment song: pack up your troubles in your own kit bag and smile, smile, smile.


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