There has been much discussion of the 'Irish Exemption' to the EU Water Framework directive, with some suggesting that 'this changes everything', but it's important to note that the Real Irish Exemption is our widespread and continuing resistance.
Despite assertions from the government that Ireland is required by the EU directive to impose water charges, there is actually a unique exclusion of Ireland in article 9.4, negotiated in 2000 - which former MEP Kathy Sinnott brought to light 2 weeks ago. Therefore the imposition of domestic water charges is, unsurprisingly, a choice made by the Irish government.
This legal exemption, however, is under threat as Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly – who continues to deny the existence of the exemption – intends to rescind it on the 1st of January. The exemption can only be rescinded by the Irish government, and must be renewed (or cancelled) every 7 years in Ireland's River Basin Management Plan which is submitted to the EU Commission.
The Real Exemption
Although this is significant, it is most important to note that the huge anti-water charges movement was in full swing before many were aware of this legal exemption. We are opposed to the water charges because they are unfair and an assault on our living standards, not because they aren't really required by some EU directive.
You'd think Enda Kenny had never seen a homeless person before. In the wake of the sad death of Jonathan Corrie, who was sleeping rough in the shadow of Dáil Éireann, Ireland's parliament, the Taoiseach went walk about in the city centre to meet Dublin's homeless. In an interview with the media, he said he was "taken aback" by what he saw.
Like Ebeneezer Scrooge, whisked around the capital by the ghost of Christmas present, he got a first hand view of the conditions that people without homes or hostel places have to endure. He saw the effects of addiction, the sleeping bags and the syringes, that dominate the lives of those who have been left at the margins. But, it's hard to believe that he didn't know this was happening; It's difficult to imagine, that after three and a half years in power, he has suddenly had a Scrooge like epiphany, and is going to pull out all the stops to transform the lives of the country's homeless people.
A few days ago the catholic bishops yet again dared to lecture people in Ireland with their statement against marriage equality. This morning Díobháil, a new Galway feminist group, has used Galway cathedral to speak out for and help the women trapped in unwanted pregnancies because of the bishops' role in another referendum, the 1983 anti choice referendum.
In the years since 1983 it emerged that the same bishops had conspired to hide priests who had raped children, not just on one or two but on many occasions. Despite that this same group of supposedly celibate men still continue to bother us with lectures opposing sexual freedom, bodily autonomy and even same sex relationships. The same bishops still have de facto control over most of our schools and many of our hospitals and community centres.
The latest news from Kobane indicates that the YPG/YPJ have continued to slowly push ISIS out of the town and are now conducting regular ambushes in the surrounding towns including one 10 km south where the YPG reported that "Our forces ambushed &killed ISIS emir [leader] Abu Khansaa & bodyguards in Tel Ghazal south of Kobani."
We want to clearly state that attacks on migrants have no place in the fight against water charges. Those who sow such divisions are not our allies, they are pursuing the agenda of the government and big business.
Garda assaulting community protesters and the media not reporting? Politicians spinning greater and greater lies about 'sinister fringes' and dissidents? What's happening now to Water Charge resistors happened to the people of Rossport a few years back and we can learn from their determined resistance.
Scenes of Garda violence being used against water charge resistors have come as a shock to many people. Ten years ago if this had happened most people elsewhere might only have heard rumours and assumed that something must have been done to deserve the response. Today however the prevalence of camera phones and the ease of sharing photos and video on Facebook has meant one video after another showing disproportionate violence from the Garda has ‘gone viral’.
This piece of work is undertaken from the viewpoint of the seemingly invisible struggles of women against authoritarian rule, the historical erasing of women as being part of the wider social struggles for liberation against oppression, and indeed, providing a different type of revolutionary struggle in their own right instead of examining the effects of social reproduction and labour of women.
One of the key principles underpinning anarchist politics and philosophy is that of self-organisation. And one of the key principles underpinning self-organisation is the belief that it is by doing that people learn.
Very few people come to radical politics through what they read or through ‘education’ in the traditional sense. It is usually through becoming involved in a struggle that directly affects themselves and their neighbours/work colleagues that most people come to see the power structures of society and begin a process of analysis of how society operates and how it needs to change if the needs of ordinary people are to be met.
Here in Ireland over the past eighteen months asylum seekers have been organising protests against the conditions they are compelled to live in, including blockading the ‘hostels’ (effectively for-profit open prisons) where they are forced to live in appalling conditions, which some have been made to endure for over a decade.
For the past several years, Anti-Deportation Ireland, a political campaign run by both asylum seekers themselves and by their supporters has been pushing for three demands:
1/ An immediate end to deportations.
2/The immediate abolition of direct provision
3/The rights to work and to access 3rd-level education
Over 2000 people marched in Newbridge, Co. Kildare in the lashing rain today to protest the government's plans to force us to pay twice for our water. The march gathered at 2pm at the top of the town, near the hotel Keadeen and then proceeded to make its way down towards the town hall.