August 30th: “Since last October hundreds of thousands of us have taken to the streets of Dublin, and of towns and cities around the country, to asset our Right2Water. Our message has been simple: You will listen to us.
“You will listen to our demand that you abolish – not reduce or reform, but abolish – water charges. And you will listen to our demand for a referendum to ensure that our water remains in public ownership.
“But we have not just marched about water charges. These hated charges are just a symptom of something much deeper. They are a symptom of the austerity policies which have plunged families and communities around Ireland into despair – while leaving a few, a very few, relatively unscathed.
“When it comes to income distribution, before taxes and social welfare are taken into account, Ireland is the most unequal country in the EU. The top 10 per cent of earners enjoy more than one-third of our total income.
“As we march for the abolition of water charges, we are also marching for change. We have a Right2Change.
“Those living in emergency accommodation have a Right2Change. The low-paid workers struggling to feed a family on the Minimum Wage have a Right2Change. The parents forced to borrow in order to meet back-to-school costs of hundreds of Euro for what is supposed to be free education have a Right2Change. The hundreds of thousands waiting for a hospital appointment have a Right2Change. Those struggling to rear a family in Direct Provision have a Right2Change.
“We have shown that we have the determination and energy and commitment to achieve change for ourselves, our families and our communities. Through people power, we forced the Government into a U-turn on its water charges policy, which is now in chaos.
“Now, we need to bring that same determination to changing the way we do things. In a few months’ time, politicians will come knocking at our doors. We need to make it clear to them: ‘Politics is about choices. Up to now, you have been making the wrong choices – wrong for individuals, wrong for communities, wrong for our country’.
“The Policy Principles published today by the trade unions affiliated to Right2Water, following extensive public consultation, reflect some of the changes we need to make. They are not exhaustive, and many more ideas will come from the meetings due to be organised around the country. But they are a start on the road to achieving the change we need – the change that is our right”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.