Water Charges: They didn't ask our consent - The law must be broken!


The recent announcement that people who have returned their registration packs to Irish Water blank, or emblazoned with the words “No consent, no contract”, are now registered with the service provider, should be enough to expose the counter-legal mumbo jumbo being spread by Direct Democracy Ireland (DDI), and other groups influenced by the “Freeman of the land” ideology.

DDI claim that the registration pack is a contract and that by returning it with a statement of non-consent, you have made your intention not to make a contract with Irish Water clear and therefore you do not have to pay the water charge. Not only that, but they claim that if you are brought to court for non-payment, all you need to do is show a photo of the pack to back up your case.

DDI's advice, as illustrated by the fact that those who followed it are now registered, is nonsense. The authority to charge users of water comes from Section 21 Part 3 of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013, which says Irish Water “shall charge each customer for the provision of its water services in accordance with the approved water charge plan.” The entitlement to charge is not dependent upon a contract because section 2 of the act defines the customer as “the occupier of the premises in respect of which the water supply is provided.”

The “Freeman” ideology that DDI derive their bizarre understanding of the law from has its origins in American right-wing groups, whose anti-government position is based on anti-Semitism, anti-taxation and Thomas Jefferson’s theory that “the government which governs best is the government that governs least.” (And less government, for those who do not espouse socialism, just means freer markets). Much of the justification for this ideology comes from conspiracy theories about Jewish control of government and corporations and secret plots to take away rights granted by the American Revolution. Since these ideas crossed the Atlantic and were taken up by a wide variety of groups, their origins have been obscured, but their essence is right-wing, conservative, individualistic and based on conspiracy theory.

Contrary to the DDI/Freeman theory, there are no magic words that “provide an extra layer of legal protection” for water charge resistors. When we refuse to pay, we break the law. When we block meter installation, we break the law. These are the only tactics that can deliver victory, so if we are to win, the law must be broken. The law is not there to protect us, it is there to protect the power and wealth of those who rule us. To quote Anatole France, “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges, begging in the streets and stealing loaves of bread.”

Don’t pay - Protest - Organise

WORDS: Mark Hoskins  (Follow Mark on Twitter)


This article appears in abbriged form in the WSM mini newspaper Defeating the Water Charges