Meanwhile, back in the real world, the water charge controversy is heating up (insert your favourite ‘hot water jokes’ here). The government has denied rumours that it is about to sell off the Water Service, currently part of the Department of the Environment. There are also plans to bring in tough measures against non payers. Tonight a Tap Tax campaign is meeting at the City Hall in Belfast.Speaking on behalf of ICTU, NIPSA General Secretary John Corey will “tell the meeting that Government Ministers had a clear agenda to implement water charges for the primary purpose of selling it off to private corporations”.
“If the water service is sold off as this Government is clearly planning, then the main beneficiaries will not be the people of Northern Ireland but private shareholders of multi-nationals that will seize on the opportunity of profiting at all our expense. Today all of us are stakeholders in the water service. It is not for sale and we do not wish our Water Service to levy bills on every household.
As the owners we can defend our public service. We can stop the privatisation. We can do it by not paying twice for what we have paid for already.
And make no mistake about our position. The trade union movement in Northern Ireland, representing 250,000 workers and their families have decided democratically to back a ‘refuse to pay’ campaign. If the Government think that they can browbeat the public in Northern Ireland to pay these water charges, or mislead the people with false information on charges they are far mistaken.
We don’t need further consultation exercises. The way for the people to let their opinion be known is to back non payment. By withholding our water payments, the people will also be saying NO to privatisation. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, ‘Don’t Pay Twice, It’s Alright’.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty