I will be marching in Dublin today and would urge you all if you can to be there too.
In the meantime just a number of facts which you might find interesting:
On Monday night at the City Council meeting I signed my name to an emergency motion on behalf of the Right to Walter Galway which was to be tabled by the Sinn Féin Councillors.
The motion read as follows:
‘This council recognises that water is a human right and as such calls for the abolition of water charges and the dismantling of Irish Water. This Council reaffirms its commitment to remain an independent authority and as such declares itself unwilling to supply details of Council Tenants to Irish Water’.
In the event just 8 City Councillors (three SF, three FF and two independent Councillors including myself) signed the motion out of 18 City Councillors.
As the signed motion did not have the requisite number of signatures it could not be raised or discussed!
Of interest also was a written reply I received at the same meeting to the following motion:
‘In light of a recent threatening letter from a local authority to RAS (rental accommodation scheme) tenants saying that failure to pay water charges could put a tenancy in jeopardy and bearing in mind that Irish Water is a utility company like any other from which tenants among other residents of the county receive services, Galway City Council resolves not to evict, nor threaten not to renew a tenancy or otherwise put RAS/Long Term Leasing Tenants and/or other Council tenants in fear of losing a tenancy should they choose not to cooperate with Irish water and resolves to request of the private landlords involved in RAS/Longer Term Leasing schemes that they will act in like manner’
Significantly the written reply dealt inadequately with part of the question and ignored completely the part in Relation to Galway City Council Tenants which is very worrying.
The reply was as follows: ‘In respect of the above notice of motion I wish to advise that in the case of RAS/LTL tenancies, the landlord and tenant relationship is between the owner and tenant. Accordingly the City Council does not have a direct responsibility in the management and maintenance of the property, including utilities in respect of the property i.e. electricity, water, heating etc’
I will of course re-table this motion for full discussion in due course.
Finally, another significant piece of information to emerge at the same City Council meeting came from the Local Government Statutory Audit Report under the following heading-
Commercial Water: it read as follows:
‘The billing and collection of commercial water for the City Council has been contracted to an agent for a number of years. Previous audit reports have referred to issues in relation to the management of this contract. At the end of 2013 there was a significant difference of 446,000 Euro between the contractor’s figures and the Council debtors figure.
The City Council’s AFS included debtors for commercial water of 2,9 million at the end of 2013 against which it had made a bad debt provision of 39%. I reviewed this provision and deemed it sufficient’
So here we are in Galway paying a private company from public funds to collect fees for commercial water and yet we have a figure of accumulated bad debts of 2.9 million in a City which is supposedly thriving!