Labour fear of political annihilation motivates deferral of Water Tax

Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore’s announcement of the deferral of water charges from next January is prompted wholly by the party’s fear of annihilation at the Local and Euro Parliament Elections in 2014. The absence of meters did not prevent the Labour / Fine Gael Coalition from introducing water charges in 1983 nor again their reintroduction in Dublin in 1994.

However if the Government persists with the Property Tax in the teeth of overwhelming opposition and resistance, Labour will face a wipeout anyway. This is more certain to be the case if the Campaign Against Home & Water Taxes mounts a nationwide slate of anti-Property Tax / anti-austerity candidates in the 2014 elections.

Both Labour and Fine Gael should learn from the major campaign of Boycott of water charges when reintroduced in the Dublin County Council areas in 1994, coupled with massive political pressure which saw both parties heavily defeated in the Dublin West Bye election in April 1996. The campaign of boycott, mass resistance  and political pressure forced the then Labour / Fine Gael Government to abolish water charges nationally in December 1996.

Note: Joe Higgins was Chairman of the Federation of Dublin Anti Water Charges Campaigns, 1994 -1997, which led the successful campaign for the abolition of water charges and was the candidate supported by the campaign in the April 1996, Dublin West Bye election, finishing with  11,384 votes to Brian Lenihan Junior, 11,753


1996 by-election: Dublin West[13]
Party Candidate 1st Pref % Seat Count
Fianna Fáil Brian Lenihan, Jnr 6,995 24.6 1 11
Independent Joe Higgins[20] 6,743 23.7
Fine Gael Tom Morrissey 3,728 13.1
Workers’ Party Tomás Mac Giolla 2,909 10.2
Green Party Paul Gogarty 1,286 4.5
Sinn Féin John McCann 1,574 5.5
Progressive Democrats Sheila Terry 1,314 4.6
Independent Vincent Jackson 1,131 4.0
Labour Party Michael O’Donovan 1,058 3.7
Christian Solidarity Gerard Casey 768 2.7
Independent Sean Lyons 514 1.8
Independent John O’Halloran 369 1.3
Independent Benny Cooney 21 0.1
Electorate: 62,534 Valid: 28,410 Quota: 14,206 Turnout: 45.4%4