Community Groups Disappointed by the Garda Response
Community Groups across Cork have been shocked to learn today that their local Garda have been given the funding to create “special teams” to deal with the residents who are saying no to having water meters installed in their homes.
The community groups were formed as a reaction to the installation of water meters and to water taxation. The groups believe that water taxation has been introduced through progressive taxation of motor vehicles since 1997 and has seen 20.4billion raised to tackle the water system problems within Ireland.
Mahon Says No are a community group of local residents who believe the water taxation is both morally wrong and unfeasible for people who have been stretched to breaking point by the austerity measures the government has introduced. Rachael O’Sullivan a member of the group said: “People literally cannot afford to pay these bills. And now we see our Garda force creating new special teams to deal with us, the people they should be protecting. Why? The protestors are non-violent. There is no hassle or aggression so why are our over stretched garda being asked to do this? Where is the money coming from for this and why is it not being spent on real crime? 57% non payment is the people saying no, 100,000 people attending marches in Dublin is the people saying no. Who are the Garda representing, who are the government representing and why are they not listening to the people who elect them? Irish Water may or may not survive but what will this to do to community relationships with our local Garda? What legacy will this leave for the people of Cork and its protectors?”
The Mahon Says No community group have been meeting and canvassing their area for over a year. The group are confident from their door to door discussions and meetings that Mahon as an area are saying No to water meters and Irish Water.
Lar Ó Tuama, Mahon Says No Treasurer, said: “We do expect a Garda presence when Irish Water arrive in Mahon in the coming weeks, but we do not accept the claim that such a presence will be to protect the meter installers. Such as presence will serve only to intimidate protesters, frighten residents into not protesting for fear of arrest and to force the unwanted meters on our community.”
The group were disappointed to read the statement by Garda Superintendent Michael Finn who was quoted in the article as making a reference to protesters “interfering with and threatening” meter installers and claims that because of this there is need for Garda presence, while also acknowledging how Garda resources are being diverted from “regular policing” . The Mahon Says No group have been actively campaigning with other community groups across Cork and have taken part in the nationwide meetings. Rachael Said: “ I have seen no violence or threatening behaviour. This has been a consciously non violent and positive campaign, that has created cross community groups and built relationships and friendships between areas. The fact that 100,000 people could take part in a national march and for there to be no fighting or trouble is a strong indicator of the type of person involved. The direct accusation by Garda superintendent Michael Finn that people are being threatening creates the impression of thugs, which creates fear and validates this waste of Garda time and money. It would be ridiculous and questionable to be sending numerous squad cars for a handful of protestors if he acknowledged that the protests were peaceful. His accusations are unfounded and should be acknowledged as such.”