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UPDATE 6.00pm : Irish Water refutes Sinn Fein statement and say they arent pulling out. Though they do have a track u turns and vagueness.. Their statement said.
“There has been no withdrawal from any region, Dublin included. Irish Water contractors continue to install meters nationwide as evidenced by the numbers” They also said “n order to guarantee the safety of metering crews and members of the public, metering works have, on occasion, been postponed on specific sites by the contractors due to the nature of protestor activity. Safety of the metering crews and the general public is a priority for Irish Water….Irish Water cannot comment on the specifics of its contracts with third parties for reasons of confidentiality except to say that it is for our contractors to deliver the metering program in accordance with our requirements; safely and meeting time and budget obligations.”
Irish Water are due to release a statement later today following comments from Sinn Fein’s environment spokesperson to the effect that Dennis O Briens company, Sierra GMC, is to stop installing meters in Dublin. Installations of water meters in Dublin have reduced to a trickle following community and street level mobilisations that have stopped work going ahead.
Whilst An Garda Siochana and private security firms like Gardex have worked hand in glove to facilitate water meter installation, including the police forces passing on details of people protesting in their own street, the ongoing consistent resistance seems to have have got results. The cost of continuing to push through water meter installations have been made too high for the company and for the government itself.
If the pull out is confirmed this is a massive boost to the anti water tax movement across the country as it shows the effectiveness of community based direct actions in stopping water meter installations in the capital of the country. Its hard to underestimate the importance of this victory.
That being said it is very unlikely that Denis O Brien will take this lying down. We should fully expect the framing of any decision to stop water meter installations to feed into the existing narratives of “thugish elements” of the anti water tax movements. The mainstream media are very unlikely to portray this as a gallant win.
The Right 2 Water campaign have understandably sought to create a broad left platform for the coming election. Its common sense to do this. However it would be an a substantive failure of opportunity for radical progessive movement building in Ireland, if electoralism alone is the strategy going forward. But hey those conversations can happen another day.
Because its clear that street level politics outside the ballot box, be that stopping meters going in, taking meters out or wide spread non payment is what will defeat this.
It looks like street politics in Ireland has had its biggest win in decades. And when people get involved with struggle in their communites and become emboldened with a win? Well that’s when things tend to get pretty interesting….