Dr Rory Hearne: The Irish water war, austerity and the ‘Risen people’

An analysis of participant opinions, social and political impacts and transformative potential of the Irish anti water-charges movement

irish report

Image from Dr. Hearne’s Report

Dr Rory Hearne

Department of Geography, Maynooth University

April 2015

Summary of Survey Findings

A note on the survey – the survey gathered the views of a large sample of people protesting against the water charges. It was not a survey of the entire population about attitudes to water charges but of the specific group who are opposed to, and protesting against the water charges.

• (61%) were between 30 and 50 years of age, 52% working full time

• Geographic spread: Dublin region 45%. Leinster 28%, Munster 16%. Within Dublin highest response from working class areas

• New people to protest: A majority of respondents (54.4%) had not protested at all before taking part in the current anti-water protests

• ‘Austerity has gone too far’ was the most cited reason (59.6%) for protesting, followed by to ‘stop the future privatisation of water’ (cited by 58.7%), protesting for ‘abolition of water charges’ 57.3% respondents), the ‘Bank bailouts/debt’ (42.9%) and ‘water is a human right’ (41.3%) (M

• 90.1% felt the tactics of the R2W movement were effective

• 92% of respondents stated that they do not intend paying for water charges

• 69.9% believe the campaign will be successful

• 86% described the media portrayal of the anti-water movement as negative

• 82.6% were most informed about the campaign from social media

2,556 people filled out the survey between December 7th 2014 and December 14th 2014. This is an extremely large

survey sample size. Participants used the on-line survey tool Survey Monkey. The survey is, therefore, a very representative sample of those protesting against the water charges. It is accurate to state that it gives a useful insight into the views of participants in the ‘water movement’ – the largest social movement that has taken place in Ireland for a number of decades. A small amount of questions allowed participants choose multiple options and therefore the percentage answers for these do not add up to 100% but rather indicate broad

preference (the letter M is put beside these questions).

Broad demographic spread: slightly more respondents were male (53.6%), majority

• 79.7% said the movement should organise more mass protests, 39.6% said the Right to Water should extend to other issues like the right to housing and 36.6% said the Right to Water should stand in elections (M)

• 83.1% of respondents indicated that they would vote for broadly ‘Left’ candidates ((31.7%) said they would vote for

PBP/AAA, 27.5% for Left Independents, 23.9% for Sinn Fein, only 5.6% said they would vote for Right

Independents and 5.6% said they don’t intend to vote

• 65% of respondents stated that who they will vote for in the coming general election is a change on who they voted

for in the General election of 2011 with the majority of these moving away from government parties to opposition

Left parties and independents.

• 70% of those who indicated they will change their vote had voted for the government parties in 2011

• 79.3% will vote for candidates affiliated to or endorsed by the R2W campaign

• 79.6% stated that there is a need for a new political movement/party in Ireland

• Just over a half of respondents identified themselves what the priority issues for a new party should be. Equality

and fairness was identified most (by 26%), followed by political reform/democracy (17%), standing up to Europe (12.7), fairer taxation (10%), for proper/decent public services (8.5%)

• 77.6% stated the most effective way of getting change was through protesting, voting in elections at 52.3%, local community activities at 40.8% and only 28% see the most effective way of getting change is by contacting a political representative (M)

read the full report: https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/sites/default/files/assets/document/TheIrishWaterwar_0.pdf