The Right2Water campaign is shocked by the jailing of five water protesters for contempt of court today (Thursday, 19th February). Bernie Hughes, Derek Byrne and Michael Batty were all sentenced to 28 days in prison while Paul Moore and Damien O’Neill were given 56 days each.
Right2Water representatives were in court for the sentencing, which they described as “an unnecessary and provocative decision brought about by an unfair water charge that has already been rejected and cannot work.”
In a statement, the Right2Water campaign said:
“We have a country where 37% of children live in deprivation and 1.7 million citizens have less than €100 disposal income monthly. Moreover, another 500,000 citizens have nothing left after bills have been paid. The communities represented by the protesters jailed today are the human face of these statistics. We again call on the Government to show common sense, halt the installation of water meters and abolish these charges. This is necessary to prevent any further unnecessary confrontation in the interests of both communities and workers.
“It is important to remember that these jailings are not as a result of any crime committed, but for a technical ‘contempt’ issue.
“They stand in stark contrast to the apparent impunity of those who brought about the financial crisis which has resulted in untold hardship for communities across Ireland – hardship further exacerbated by the imposition of water charges. The movement against water charges has been based on mass peaceful protest, and this will continue.
“The ultimate responsibility for these incarcerations lies with the Government who have made a political choice to impose water charges on communities. The protestors jailed today are simply protecting themselves, their children and their communities from further political attacks on their living standards. They should be freed without delay”, the statement concluded.