Free water in Ireland – but only if you’re a corporation

So we know how much Irish Water wanted us to pay for our water last year. We know about the enormous movement that has emerged leading to major concessions and reduced capped charges until 2018, when we will inevitably experience a dramatic increase in prices again. We also know about the money we have already paid through progressive general taxation for decades and how our water usage is now to be metered in an alleged conservation measure (which is really a privatisation measure).

And we are told that all profits will be used to rebuild and provide vital investment for our water infrastructure. This message is often accompanied by haughty tut tutting about how we as a nation are a shower (pardon the pun) of water wastrels who spend our lives washing our many cars, watering our acres of gardens and filling our swimming pools.

So that’s how Irish Water and its commentariat in our media treats the tax paying public that it wants to have for customers. The people who need water to drink, to prepare and cook food with, to wash and dispose of human and other waste. The necessary business of ‘living’. They don’t even want us processing our own rainwater without charging us for that too.

This got us wondering, given that water is a precious natural resource, and we all own it, even if it has to be processed, how do Irish Water and our state administration treat the corporations who use our water, our wells, our springs? Not those who need it for actual life, but those who want it for pure profit driven motives. After all, wouldn’t we all feel just a tad better about the great water war being waged on us knowing that at least Corporate Ireland is paying its fair share?

So we asked, or at least James Moore asked. James is an activist, campaigner, a trade union member and a workplace representative, and he cares about water. James used the FOI Act to ask questions about some pretty big companies. He asked about Ballygowan. Heard of them? Yes, thought so. They are BIG! Glenpatrick Spring in Tipperary. Tipperary Spring Water and Kerry spring from the Kingdom itself are also companies of interest.

In preparation, this week we asked some water activists two questions. What are the costs for water extraction per cubic metre and what would the limits on that extraction be for these very successful and highly profitable companies? Of course cynicism reigned. Almost 100 years of cronyism and gombeenism sucking money from poor and middle income families to give to the rich have left people increasingly cynical. So most people thought about it and opined that in gombeen Ireland, the tax haven and ‘best small country in the world to do business’ (but one of the worst to be an active citizen expecting high standards in public services and social protection) the amounts netted would be small and the extraction limits very high.

They were wrong.

The water charges weren’t low. They were zero.

The extraction limits weren’t high. They do not exist at all. There is no limit.

As the documents attached show (all but James address has been left intact) there is no evidence that any of these companies have paid a single cent into our exchequer for the extraction, bottling and selling for profit of our natural resources. OUR natural water. Moreover there is no evidence that there is ANY cap or limit to the amount of OUR natural water that these private companies can take for profit.

Who elected the politicians, local or national, that allowed this to happen?

Who are these people who decided to charge us twice for something we already own, our public water and system, but to give our naturally occurring spring water away for nothing? And then they have the audacity to tell us we need to pay again for water because it costs so much to process, when there are literally millions of litres of perfectly good water being extracted for profit.

Ballygowan Water is owned by Britvic which is a company registered on the London Stock Exchange and have recorded profits of €90.68m for last year.

In defending our Right2Water the affiliated Trade Unions sponsored a public consultation process which has developed, ground up, 10 policy principles to reshape how Ireland is run and for whom it benefits. We want to see an economy working for our people, not the other way around. We want to see vindication of our Right2Water, or Right2Democratic Reform and our Right2Natural Resources. In short we want to vindicate our Right2Change Ireland. We, and we believe the people of Ireland, have had enough, we deserve much better and we are demanding that change.

Come to one of our local meetings and have your say. Find out more on


21 September – 7:30pm, Red Cow Inn, Naas Rd, Dublin 22

21 September – 7:30pm, Clarion Hotel, Limerick

22 September – 7:30pm, Brandon Hotel, Tralee, Co. Kerry

22 September – 7:30pm, Hilton Hotel, Northern Cross, Dublin 17

22 September – 7:30pm, Clarion Hotel, Sligo

23 September – 7:30pm, St Gerard's Hall, Dundalk, Co. Louth

23 September – 7:30pm, Radisson Hotel, Letterkenny, Donegal

The policy areas identified include:

  • Right2Water;
  • Right2Democratic Reform;
  • Right2Jobs and Decent Work;
  • Right2Health;
  • Right2Housing;
  • Right2Education;
  • Right2Debt Justice;
  • Right2Equality;
  • Right2National Resources;
  • Right2Sustainable Environment.

Download Flyers for your area

 Right2Change Red Cow.pdf

 Right2Change Dublin17.pdf

 Right2Change Dundalk.pdf

 Right2Change Letterkenny.pdf

 Right2Change Limerick.pdf

 Right2Change Sligo.pdf

 Right2Change Tralee.pdf