“Are you going to pay your water charges, Gerry?” – Redux

The Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, TD, would like to change his previous answer to the question.  Again.  Here’s his new new position on water charges

“Sinn Féin is standing firmly with those families and hard pressed citizens who very simply cannot pay the Government’s water tax. As a mark of solidarity, I have decided that I will not pay this Government’s Water Tax. [added emphasis]

To be fair, up until a month ago the Louth TD didn’t realise he would have to pay water charges – what with him being ordinarily resident “in the North”.  As Miriam Lord related at the time

How a person living on just the average industrial wage and mere average industrial expenses could overlook such a wallop in the wallet is puzzling. So we listened back to this exchange between Gerry and Joe Finnegan on Shannonside Radio on Monday morning.

“Are you going to pay your water charges, Gerry?”

“Well, it doesn’t affect me in so far as, eh, I, in the North where my family home is, Sinn Féin stopped water charges…”

“So you won’t have to pay water charges here in the South?”

“No, not, not, not to my knowledge.” [added emphasis]

The party president’s faulty knowledge was subsequently corrected by a Sinn Féin party spokesman.

…when asked by the Irish Independent if Mr Adams would pay water charges for his holiday home in Donegal and his two constituency offices, a Sinn Fein spokesman said the party leader would be paying the charge in all instances.

However, he will not be paying water charges for the house in Louth where he is registered to vote.

Gerry will pay the water charge on his house in Donegal and his constituency office,” he said. “The house in Co Louth in which he stays belongs to a friend, so this is not matter for Gerry,” he added. [added emphasis]

And once the party president had decided his new position… By the time of the party’s launch of its alternative budget submission Sinn Féin was, if not in crisis, in disarray.

Speaking at the launch of the party’s pre-budget submission in Dublin yesterday, senior Sinn Fein TDs Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty and Caoimhghin O Caolain said they will follow suit [and, like the party president, pay the water charge].

But the party’s housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis and Dublin South West by-election candidate Cathal King insisted they will fight the charges.

“I intend to fight it all the way,” Mr Ellis told the Irish Independent.

Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh said he is “not inclined” to pay the bill on January 1 but he will consult his family before making a decision.

His party colleague Jonathan O’Brien said he has not decided yet if he will boycott the payment.

Since then, however, there has been defeat for the party in the Dublin South West by-election.

The result is a blow to Sinn Féin who had been tipped to take the Dáil seat vacated by Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes after his election to the European Parliament last May.

The campaign was dominated by the water charges debate.

While Sinn Féin gave a commitment to abolish water charges if in government, the party said it would retain the new utility Irish Water and fund it through general taxation. King said he would not be paying his water bill while senior party figures said they would.

The Socialists argued for the outright abolition of Irish Water and called on voters to boycott their water charges and mount a campaign of non-payment.

And, this Saturday, 1 November, mass protests against the water charges in Ireland.

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated across the country against water charges on Saturday.

Followed by this statement on Sunday, 2 November, from the Deputy’s deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald, TD, on her change of mind.

“The Government are not listening. They don’t understand quite how serious this situation is. So as a mark of solidarity I have decided not to pay the water charges.”

All of which preceded today’s, 3 November, change of mind by the Sinn Féin party president…

“Sinn Féin is standing firmly with those families and hard pressed citizens who very simply cannot pay the Government’s water tax. As a mark of solidarity, I have decided that I will not pay this Government’s Water Tax.

And if all that doesn’t bring to mind the possibly apocryphal quote from Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin…

“There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”

Then you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din…