Sinn Fein protest water meters in Dundalk, but have ensured they are installed in Newry?

So, Sinn Fein didn’t order the continuation of the installation of 35,000 water meters in new build houses in Northern Ireland at a cost of £13.3 million? Well, no. The minister’s department did refuse to allow NI Water off the hook of putting water meters as it was required to do by law.

Brian Stanley put it thus...

Sinn Féin can only do what it can do at any point in time being in the power-sharing executive, and that situation changes – that is the game of politics.

Paul Maskey put thus…

“Sinn Féin has always taken a strong stance in opposition to domestic water charges and creeping privatisation. We recognise that water is a precious resource universally recognised as a basic human right and we will continue to block any moves towards introduction of charges.”

The public record is clear enough. Sinn Fein has done everything it can to stop water charging, except changing the law to prevent it happening.

This tells us something interesting about the nature of the whole debate in the Republic, or indeed the non debate in Northern Ireland. No one can or will guarantee no water charges in future.

As Arthur Beesley noted in the Irish Times last week the water controversy is all mostly (to borrow from the MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone) b@ll*cks…

The water charge – as amended – is is not particularly large. Like all taxes, it’s hardly conducive to merriment. People who cannot pay it won’t. No one will go to prison. The bill will be added as a charge on the property, meaning any resolution will come only later. Yet, as politicians shriek and bray on the airwaves, some would have you believe the end of the world has come.

By the start of next year, the Government and its predecessor will have executed €29.8 billion in tax increases and spending cutbacks since 2008. The €270 million to be raised from water is tiny by comparison, even if the battle over the charge merely serves as a lightning rod for other pressures and a lever for some peoples’ political ambitions.

Water meters don’t necessarily lead to privatisation. However they do incentivise citizens to ration a resource in an ageing system that desperately needs investment. It is also part of a transparency programme being pushed under an EU directive which is unlikely to go away, you know.

Both Sinn Fein and the DUP know this (despite their public opposition to water charges). Brian Stanley and Paul Maskey know this too. What they also know (or they should) is that the water charge level in the south is tokenistic. In England water bills for a small family are in the range of £5o pcm.

The irony is that whilst in Dundalk Sinn Fein councillors protest the installation of water meters, just up the road in Newry meters are going in partly at the diktat of a former Sinn Fein Minister…

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  • SaffronDuck

    Bizarrely and perhaps worringly it was RNU that consistently raised actual meters were being fitted and were ridiculed for making such claims. Seems if it was not for a group of ‘dissenting’ Republicans this would have remained conveniently buried. That in no way detracts from the actions of dissenting republicans threatening those installing metres whilst their existence was denied

  • Megatron_

    Shock as political party outed as opportunistic

  • Megatron_

    On a serious note I would support water charges if there was an appropriate realistic free allowance.

  • Glenn Clare

    There is a photo on facebook of the RNU putting sand and cement into a water meter, in west Belfast. And get this. they use bottled water to pour onto the sand and cement. Obviously it irony of the situation has not dawned on them. Using bottled water that they had to pay for, in their attempts to put the water meter out of action. Water meters that the shinners/provos said we’re not being installed.

  • Superfluous

    I’ve a feeling these scenarios are only going to get worse for Sinn Fein, the more successful they become in both states. Every politician has to engage in a certain amount of realpolitik to get things done (especially in coalition government, something the coalition naive British public probably won’t forgive the LibDems for) – but having to engage in realpolitik in two states simultaneously makes it very easy for the laziest of critics to find such double standards.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This reads like a tenuous piece of anti-Sinn Féin propaganda TBH.

    While SF do not deserve the sole “credit” for blocking water charges here, I doubt charges will ever go ahead as long as they have a veto.

  • eiregain

    of fabricated propaganda. I’m not saying that is what it is, I’m just saying
    your standards are dropping. It seems an attempt to flood slugger with
    “unionist” posts after your call to action was ignored.

    BTW charging
    common man for water is preposterous when our corporate tax rates and capital gains rates are so low,
    income tax rates so high, cost of living sky rocketing and minimum wage at a standstill.
    The average Mick is already on the breadline whilst working 40 hours a week
    even though they are on ZERO hour contracts. Please don’t fall into the trap of
    supporting water charges just because Sinn Fein oppose.

  • Martin Óg Meehan

    The Provisional Movement has been an integral part of the Stormont Government since 2008 and as such have agreed to install water meters across the North! Denying this fact has exposed them for what they truly are a chairde – an anti-Working-Class Party.
    Their attempts to hijack anti-austerity protests in the Twenty-Six Counties re in tatters and no amount of spin will sell their lies to ordinary people.

  • Martin Óg Meehan

    RNU Force Stormont to Ban Water Meters: A Victory for the Working-Class;

  • kensei

    New charges and taxes are token until they aren’t. They are *always* set of to neuter opposition and raised later. Tell me what happened to student loans.

    Which I’m sure you know Mick. The Someone is doing something in one place and not the other also only really works in the same state.

  • Zeno3

    Why would anyone want to give the government more money to waste? I’m just curious. In the last week or so we have had 350k given to a Golf Club from a fund intended to help regenerate hard hit areas and possibly 100,s of thousands given to research companies that haven’t produced any research. We have a almost 400 “employed in the OFMDFM at a cost of £16.6 million.
    Do you think they will invest the water charges you want to pay sensibly?