Statement by Senator Katherine Zappone
Tallaght’s water protest has been raised in the Seanad with Senator Katherine Zappone warning that people in South Dublin have very little confidence left in the Government.
The Independent Senator said Ministers must listen to the voices on the streets and not turn a deaf ear to anger not just about the water issue but also about a legacy of cuts and austerity.
Senator Zappone added that a critical juncture has been reached and it is time for the whole scale reforms which people are seeking, of which the water crisis is just one symptom.
Senator Zappone added: “One of the main reasons I marched with the people in Tallaght is that I wanted to hear their concerns and why they had chosen to come out in such numbers. It is clear people want a water system with transparent management and governance procedures ensuring everyone is treated fairly and justly. The practice of a small group of Ministers using closed door meetings to call the shots has failed and is not restoring any public trust. Further, many people do not have the cash to pay for water. They just don't have it. This must be taken into account as well."
"What is also clear is that the anger in Tallaght and communities throughout South Dublin is not just about water – the Government has pursued a policy of massive social disinvestment with many women and children hit particularly hard by the cuts. Two recent reports prove this. The first from the World Economic Forum shows the gender gap is widening and we must ask why are women becoming increasingly worse off than men? In Tallaght and neighboring communities 55% of women leave education at second level and that raises serious questions. The second report is from UNICEF and says child poverty figures here increased by almost 11% in four years – with 130,000 children considered poor."
"The mismanagement of the water crisis I believe is the tipping point of people’s frustration and has brought them out in their tens of thousands. In the coming weeks the Government is promising to bring some much needed clarity to the water issue – it must also address the crucial question of who is in charge at Irish water? But more importantly it must also use the economic recovery to correct the inequalities of the past. The people are literally crying out for reforms and they deserve to be heard.”