Class-consciousness is increasing

The Right2Water campaign and communities from all over the country last week held their third massive national mobilisation within a few months, and the message was clear: people won’t be bullied or bribed, and they see through government lies and propaganda.

The recent retreat by the government is not enough, and is not accepted by the people. The government has lost the Irish Water issue and has no popular mandate. The view of hundreds of thousands of people and families is irrefutable; the government does not have our support to govern.

Last week’s protest followed an intensification of violence, supervision and vilification of communities resisting Irish Water and water charges. But the resistance is growing. Mobilisation against the installation of water meters has spread throughout the country. Peaceful protests against Garda brutality capture the mood.

And all this has occurred peacefully, despite constant propaganda from the O’Brien-dominated media and the spin from establishment politicians and Irish Water itself.

Lies were put out deliberately before this demonstration to break the movement and discourage people from attending. They failed. They failed miserably. The diverse platform of speakers and supporters and the magnificent diversity of the near hundred thousand people in attendance demonstrates the unity, resolve and determination of this burgeoning political movement.

On the day, protest songs and rousing music were provided by a number of local bands, with Damien Dempsey and Glen Hansard showing their support for this growing national movement.

Clearly, over the last few months this has developed from a resistance into a movement, and this is the potential that must now be harnessed not only to secure victory on this issue but to tip the balance of power in Ireland away from billionaires and their political system to communities and working people.

The question now is not whether the government resigns, or who from Right2Water is going to stand in the next election. The relevant question we have to ask is, How do we strengthen the politicisation of this movement and strengthen community groups and the ties that are developing in a very positive way. Unless we do this, the rich will still continue to govern and rule us through the vast array of instruments they have, including the government, senior civil service, procurement arrangement, media, European Union, tax arrangements, trade agreements, IMF, Gardaí, etc.

We must, therefore, be in this for the long haul and not just for short-term electoral advantage. For even if you elect a progressive left coalition, unless they are committed to a progressive withdrawal from the European Union and to challenging the power of corporations they will not deliver any meaningful change.

To do this, these difficult and challenging issues need to be discussed within the movement and popularised within our class. They cannot be ignored, though they will be ignored by those people seeking to use the issue of water charges for their own short-term electoral strategy. We cannot allow this to continue, or this movement will be lost and this historic opportunity wasted. We need to begin building popular support for a withdrawal from the EU and for demands that challenge the power of corporations in our country.