Up to 40 protesters from the area vowed to fight water charges every step of the way with the backing of newly-elected Anti Austerity Alliance councillors — Cian Prendiville, John Loftus and Paul Keller.
Irish Water contractors planning to instal meters in Caherdavin had to cease work earlier this week but are “now continuing apace in the area”.
At Limerick City and County Council’s first Metropolitan District meeting this Monday, Cllr Prendiville, himself a Caherdavin resident, told councillors and the local authority executive that people simply cannot afford to pay the charge. He has called for a campaign of “civil peaceful disobedience” and non-payment of water taxes.
“We wanted to give the Government a real spook, something for them to have nightmares over,” said Cllr Prendiville.
“We have no problem with the workers, but with the work they are doing on behalf of the Government. Rather than putting in meters, and pushing through a water tax, I think they should be fixing the leaks that are wasting 41 per cent of our water,” he added.
Cllr Prendiville is now encouraging other communities across Limerick to follow Caherdavin’s lead by organising similar protests. The AAA councillor insists this is the first step in organising to beat the water charge when it is introduced in October.
“We must remember, revenue are not involved in the water charge, so they cannot deduct it from your wages. That means non-payment is an option, and this protest is the start of building a community based, boycott campaign to defeat the water charge,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin councillor Maurice Quinlivan feels the Government should face the fact that it has lost the argument on water charges and should cease the roll-out of water meters. Cllr Quinlivan called for the introduction of domestic metering across the city to stop immediately.
“The Government claims these meters are necessary to conserve scarce water supplies. If they really want to conserve water they should fix the leaks. At least 40 per cent of the water supply that is gathered and treated is disappearing into the ground through faulty mains and dangerous lead pipes,” he fumed.
In response, an Irish Water spokesperson commented, “Irish Water respects the right to protest but prioritises the ability of its workers to complete their work in an environment meeting with health and safety standards.”
“Irish Water has installed 255,000 meters to date, as part of the most ambitious nationwide meter rollout programme ever undertaken. Irish Water’s initial target for meter installation was 27,000 meters per month however, in May, Irish Water well exceeded its revised target of 30,000 a month.”