By Katia Hancke
So last year we got the carrot (a small one, mind you),and this year the government is bringing out the stick. Between all sorts of weekly government threats, an ongoing plethora of scandals related to water meter installations and the setting up of the Irish Water quango, water charges remain in everyone’s mind. The anger about this unjust tax is as palpable as ever.
But how do we ensure we win this battle?
As the first bills are dropping now, our response has to be to build as strong a boycott as possible – reach out to every house, every street in our communities and let people know a boycott is feasible, that they are not on their own, and that if we stick together then mass non-payment will be a reality. If people are given confidence that they are only one of many engaged in boycotting, we can win over many more to non-payment. This is a big task, but many hands make light work.
Step 1 – Organise a local street meeting
Pick the local green, put up some posters in the estate, make a jingle to advertise the meeting and drive around in a car. Local shops will take posters or flyers and help get the word out. People will come, some because they are genuinely not sure yet what to do.
It is important to be able toput their minds at ease but also register the importance of making a stance against austerity now.
Others will come, who are already convinced not to pay but not sure what else can be done. If you use the street meeting to also organise your estate, you can get those people on board to help out. Form a local working group to organise more activities, together we are stronger.
Step 2 – Get an information leaflet into every door
Excellent information leaflets have been produced by the We Won’t Pay campaign. These leaflets answer peoples’ doubts and fears and outline the importance of this battle in the context of seven years of austerity. Getting this information into every door as the first bills are arriving is very important in terms of shoring up people’s determination not to engage with Irish Water. From the street meeting the estate can be divvied up between volunteers to make this happen.
Step 3 – Make the We Won’t Pay campaign visible in every corner of the country
Activities that show people there is an active local campaign also help give people confidence that we can defeat water charges:
Leave a banner on the side of busy roads. Stand at key intersections during rush hour traffic with a banner and/or some placards and you will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of positive feedback you will get. Information stalls at shopping centres and local shops are another good way to reach out to people.
Step 4 – Did we miss anyone?
There are so many ways to reach out to people – local schools, bus and train stations, bingo halls, sporting events etc. The most systematic way is still to go door to door and talk to people on the comfort of their own doorstep. The above activities will help us all to get more people involved in the coming days and weeks, so we can all work together to reach out to those who need our reassurance and support to make a united stance against the rip off that is Irish Water.
Places to look for ideas & resources: