by Alan Jacques
THE Anti Austerity Alliance (AAA) party in Limerick have been urged to participate meaningfully with Right2Water campaign following claims that they attempted to sabotage a Right2Water public meeting in the city this week.
Last weekend saw Right2Water’s fourth national day of protest against domestic water charges with tens of thousands taking part in the mass demonstration in Dublin against the “unfair tax”.
AAA councillor for City West, John Loftus, was due to speak at a ‘Stop Water Charges’ event organised by the Right2Water group, on Wednesday evening in the Absolute Hotel in Limerick
The Limerick Post was informed that Cllr Loftus agreed to speak at the meeting alongside Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan, Brendan Ogle of Right2Water and Billy Wall of OPATSI Union.
Once posters and leaflets for the meeting were printed, the AAA then disputed ever having agreed to taking part and demanded that all leaflets with Cllr Loftus’ name on them should not be distributed.
“Clearly the Limerick AAA knew that there was not enough time for the Right2Water group to print again,” said one supporter of the anti-water campaign.
“It seems that the Limerick AAA are opposed to the main national water opposition group taking their campaign to Limerick. Also, a friend of mine prominent in the AAA was boasting last night of how the AAA will disrupt Wednesday night’s meeting from the floor.”
David Houlihan of Right2Water MidWest, organiser of this week’s public event, confirmed that he had contacted Cllr Loftus twice and said the AAA representative agreed to take part in the anti-water charges meeting.
“When I received an email from the AAA saying they had no knowledge of this and they wouldn’t be taking part, I rang Cllr Loftus once again, and he told me it was a committee decision,” Mr Houlihan explained.
“Personally, I think Cllr Loftus does great work and I have great admiration for him. Right2Water Midwest’s only goal is to bring everyone opposed to the charges under one umbrella group. Many smaller groups all over the Mid-West have been asking for this as it is not about politics, it’s about citizens coming together with one goal; to abolish and defeat Irish Water,” he said.
Sinn Fein comhairleoir Séighin Ó Ceallaigh posted a message on Right2Water’s facebook page this week stating that all people opposed to water charges need to unite to defeat them.
“We Won’t Pay is an exclusive campaign used to further the political career of those in the Socialist Party who use the AAA as a front, and to illegally raise unaccounted for money,” claimed Cmhlr Ó Ceallaigh.
A statement from the Limerick Anti Austerity Alliance stated, “We believe the only way to force the abolition of water charges is through convincing a majority not to pay, therefore we do not really see how the establishment of a group that doesn’t advocate non-payment is a step forward, and we question why this is being done — especially at a time when bills are about to be sent out.”
“It is regrettable some claim we supported this initiative, which we have not. However neither do we have any intention of trying to disrupt the meeting which disgracefully some are alleging, what we have said is that it would be much better if activists stood united behind non-payment.”
The AAA went on to say that some people, without any basis, seem intent on attacking the ‘Limerick We Won’t Pay’ campaign.
“We will not be deterred and we will continue to organise the biggest boycott possible of the bills which we believe must now be the focus of all anti water charge campaigners. The opinion polls show that for every one person not paying, there is another thinking about it.
“We need a campaign that talks to those undecided people, and lets them know they can safely boycott at least until the general election, without any fear of penalties. If we can win a majority to non-payment before the elections, the charge will be fatally undermined and any government will have no choice but to abolish them.”
Cllr Loftus was replaced at this Wednesday’s meeting by Paul Whitmore of the Clare Says No Anti-Water Tax Campaign.