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Barlow to speak in Dublin this weekend ahead of Irish election


Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be speaking to an audience of about 800 people at a pre-election Right2Change conference in Dublin this coming Saturday (Feb. 13).

Barlow will be there to speak about water justice.

A national election is taking place in Ireland on Feb. 26, less than two weeks after her visit.

Dublin-based reports, “The [Right2Change] campaign grew out of the Right2Water protest, calling for the abolition of water charges – and it wants that done within the first 100 days of the new government.”

In November 2010, the previous Fianna Fáil government agreed to an economic bailout by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. After the February 2011 general election, the current Fine Gael/ Labour government signed a memorandum of understanding with the IMF/EU that required full cost recovery through water metering. As such, people are now required to pay for their water based on usage recorded by mandatory water meters, rather than through their taxes as they had done before. The first bills were issued in April 2015. They range from about Cdn $230 a year for a single-person household to about Cdn $370 for a family of four adults. About 1.8 million people in Ireland – close to half the population – have less than Cdn $159 left every month after expenses.

The upcoming Dáil Éireann (Assembly of Ireland) will have 158 seats and its members will be elected by means of a single transferable vote system. The government (in the current 166 seat Dáil Éireann) is headed by the Taoiseach (prime minister). Currently Fine Gael hold 66 seats and the Labour Party holds 33 seats, and together they form a coalition government headed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny. adds, “The Right2Change campaign says it has 96 candidates running in the general election who support their set of principles. …Sinn Féin makes up just over half of the candidates pledging to support the Rigth2Change principles. …Among the Right2Change policy principles is a €6bn investment in water infrastructure.”

A recent Sunday Independent/ Millward Brown poll puts Fine Gael at 27 per cent, Labour at 6 per cent, Fianna Fáil at 22 per cent, Sinn Féin at 21 per cent, Independents/Others at 22 per cent, and the Greens at 1 per cent. It is believed that a governing alliance would need about 44 per cent to win the next election.

In its editorial on the upcoming election, the Guardian editorial board comments, “There are plenty of reasons why the [Fine Gael/ Labour] coalition’s generally sound record elicits only conditional public approval. The main one is that a lot of voters on lower incomes have had to suffer during the inevitable readjustments of the past five years. Cuts in public spending, the introduction of water charges and an uncertain jobs market have been hard for many to bear.”

Along with Barlow, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis (via video-link) and War On Want executive director John Hilary will be speaking at the Feb. 13 conference.

You can read more about Right2Change on their Facebook page here.