Paul Murphy says there will be 2014-style mass protests if the Government re-introduce water charges 5 months ago

Paul Murphy says there will be 2014-style mass protests if the Government re-introduce water charges

"When this got tried in 2014, hundreds of thousands mobilised against it, and we would again."

Paul Murphy has warned there will be 2014-style mass protests if the Government decides to re-introduce water charges.

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The People Before Profit TD - who was one of the leaders of the anti-water charges protests in 2014 - made the comments after a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggested Ireland should consider the re-introduction of the controversial measure.

The OECD stated that nutrient pollution is putting pressure on Ireland's water bodies and is causing "declining water quality in Ireland" and that meeting the needs of Ireland's growing population, housing supply and economy will require much higher investment in water infrastructure.

Its report stated: "There is a risk that the current funding model will be unable to keep up with the scale of required investment in the water sector," and that the Government should assess "whether introducing household water charges would be appropriate".

In response, Murphy referenced a recent episode of RTÉ programme Reeling in the Years which included coverage of the 2014 water charges protests.

He wrote on Twitter: "Guess they missed Sunday's Reeling in the Years? When this got tried in 2014, hundreds of thousands mobilised against it, and we would again.

"We do not need austerity dressed up as environmentalism. We must invest in water infrastructure - but through taxing the superrich."

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He also called water charges "a regressive, austerity tax and step to privatisation which should be rejected."

Water charges were introduced in 2015 but were abolished a year later after the wave of backlash and protests from the public.

Asked on Tuesday, if the Government would consider re-introducing the measure, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: "No we won't be going back on that. We won't be re-introducing water charges".

The Taoiseach said the Government has been investing "very strongly" in water infrastructure.

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He said: "We're going to continue to invest in water but water charges will not be coming back".