Having wanted to write something in acknowledgement of those redoubtable residents of Drogheda’s Rosevale estate, where I live, who for two full days mounted determined opposition to the incursion into their neighbourhood by Irish Water profiteers, the opportunity was simply not available. Most of my time was either spent on the street or immersed in discussion with other residents about our next move. When I did make it over the portal of my door, the god of sleep had to be appeased.
Although out of the house at 6 this morning and on the streets in anticipation of a new infringement by Irish Water’s front company, Coffey’s, we dispersed shortly after 9, when it seemed likely that for today at least, water profiteering would be giving Rosevale something of a wide berth despite its unfinished business. They had targeted Meadowview this morning which is just across the road from where we live. Twice, out of curiosity, I entered Meadowview before noon. Apart from a few water signs up in the homes of some spirited residents, the water money men were digging, literally, deep into the estate. They will dig even deeper into pockets of those living there when the extortionist bills eventually arrive.
As it happened, there was some activity around lunchtime in Rosevale. The meter enforcers made a foray in to retrieve their plastic exclusion barriers. Unlike the previous two days, there was no standoff. The enforcers, tails between legs, hauled their equipment out by hand knowing any vehicle would have faced disruption.
Rosevale is generally quiet. It is hardly known as Red, Rebel or Revolutionary Rosevale. It is not a hotbed of sedition and subversion, insurgents at the ready to take on the state. Garda are rarely seen in this unassuming neighbourhood and when they are, they get a “hello” but no second glance, so unobtrusive is their presence and the absence of hostile intent. What has so animated many of the residents here is the contempt with which they have been treated by the political elite in its willingness to impose yet another exploitative and exorbitant tax on them.
The water that eventually makes its way to our homes after it falls freely from the skies should be paid for. But it should be a societally borne cost funded through a progressive taxation system that guarantees the unremitting redistribution of wealth from the richest in society to the poorest, rather than the plutocratic scam it is at the minute whereby those with little are forced to feed those with plenty.
The economic structure of society favours the rich, it always has. When one of our number was hauled off the street yesterday and threw into a van - not before I had managed to pull his track bottoms up with the help of a garda: he had been almost completely disrobed during his arrest – I wondered why he was in it all on his own. It seemed a complete waste of space in a police detention vehicle with more than enough room for a handful of fat cat bankers alongside a couple of delinquent developers. They deserved to be there. He did not. With those captains of criminal commerce packed inside it The “Paddy wagon” could have been sent off with a sign on the side proclaiming ‘Steals on wheels’: it would be one of those cases of the contents being exactly what it says on the tin.
From my teenage years I have taken part in many protests, the most arduous and sustained of them being the blanket protest of the 1970s and 80s in the H Blocks of Long Kesh. What happened here was short by comparison. But there was a strong sense of moral gratification to be derived from having stood with those people from Rosevale of all age profiles and others who were there out of solidarity, in a battle over that most fundamental of human resources. Water is a substance that should always be commissioned to serve a human thirst and never commercialised to quench the thirst for profit.
Photos by John Smith Photography