A WEST Limerick group which has been campaigning against septic tank and household charges is calling for a No vote in the Fiscal Treaty referendum, as they feel rural life is being slowly restricted by European law.
Citizens Against Charges has been at the forefront of protests across the country against government charges since it was set up in Newcastle West in January, and is now urging locals to reject the up coming referendum.
Christy Kelly, chairman of the group, said that the May 31 vote will be an opportunity for rural voters to voice their anger at what they feel are restrictions on their way of life. “The EU is fine. But now we’re just signing up to everything without saying anything. You can’t have chickens running around your yard any more without a licence. You can’t fatten a pig without a licence. You can’t cut turf in a lot of places these days.
“These are things that we’ve done for years in rural Ireland, little things, that are being signed away. How can you trust them? Our stance is, we’re going to be voting against it, by and large.”
Citizens Against Charges recently took part in demonstrations outside the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Dublin and Labour Party conference in Galway.
The group held its inaugural public meeting at the Ballintemple Inn in Newcastle West in January, in protest at Minister for Environment Phil Hogan’s plan to levy a €50 septic tank registration fee on rural dwellers, which he later reduced to €5.
Since then, the group have expanded their campaign through meetings and protest marches in Limerick and across the country.
Mr Kelly said that they have found a common voice with ordinary people who feel “bullied and intimidated by this Government”, as household and water charges are rolled out.
“The only reason our ‘troika’ of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour want a Yes vote in the fiscal treaty is that none of them are capable of striking out a proper deal for this country, and they want the easy way out for themselves at our expense and detriment.
“I make no apologies to any one for expressing my opinion in support of ordinary people who have always paid their way in this country, and who are now feeling under pressure, bullied and intimidated by this Government”.
Mr Kelly added that Citizens Against Charges are hoping to organise a public debate in Templeglantine ahead of the referendum, ideally with three or four speakers on both the Yes and No sides.
Mr Kelly said that the group are particularly keen on inviting economists and non-political experts who will be able to provide balanced arguments for and against the Treaty.
He added that the group have already been in contact with a number of high profile economists and politicians from outside Limerick, who are considering attending.