In 1944, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery conceived and planned Operation Market-Garden, whose goal was to bypass the Siegfried line and trap the German 15th Army, then cross the Rhine and swiftly advance to Berlin. In Montgomery’s eyes, Market-Garden would result in a decisive victory for the Allies and a quick conclusion to the war.
Turned out to be not quite so, as history would have it. For several reasons, Operation Market-Garden ended in a resounding failure. It was indeed a bridge too far for the Allies.
Closer to our own timeline, the spectacular demise of the so-called Celtic Tiger brought about dramatic changes in Irish society. And through the gross mismanagement of the flailing economy by successive Governments, the country’s economic sovereignty was handed over to European loan sharks. Among the many conditions such group imposed on us in exchange for cash was the introduction of a new water charge. The Government, never one to shy away from pandering to Euro whims, gladly concurred.
Such charge has faced stiff opposition from the very beginning, from all corners of the country. Scuffles have broken out everywhere, water meters have been forcibly removed, and even the Taoiseach was hounded by water charge protesters during a visit to Limerick. People are rising against a new tax by stealth.
But other European countries have been paying water charges for decades, I hear you say. True. But these countries have a proper infrastructure in place, one that is properly maintained, does not leak like an old sift, and usually does not make you sick just by drinking the stuff. In 2007, for instance, an outbreak of waterborne cryptosporidiosis in Galway made over 200 people ill. A boil water notice remained in effect for 5 months, including the peak tourist season, with the corresponding loss of revenue to the hospitality business, damage to the country’s reputation, etc. Three weeks ago, the water supply in my locality was temporarily shut off while a leak was being repaired in Limerick city. On that same week, tap water at my place of work had an unsightly brownish hue. In some areas of Co. Clare, it has a yellow tint instead. Furthermore, over the last two weeks, a main pipe in Limerick city has burst at different times, in multiple places. Thousands of liters were wasted. Drops in water pressure are commonplace, not to mention the dangerously (and totally unnecessary) high fluoride content.
Yet, despite all this, our Government has seen fit to grace us all with a good, old fashion charge. In other countries this fact would be seen as a seemingly incongruous conundrum and rejected outright, when taking into account all the aforementioned issues. Not in here though. A new tax on the liquid manna sent from heaven is just the thing. And why not waste a few extra million in setting up a new quango to manage it all while we’re at it? About 180 million euro of public money was spent in the set-up of Irish Water, and a great chunk of it (86 million, to be precise) was taken up by consultancy fees.
Water is a refreshing necessity kindly granted unto us by Nature. It cannot be manufactured, just as it cannot be stopped if a flood hits. Nevertheless, we need water to live. In fact, one of the reasons life is so abundant on planet Earth is that very same liquid gold which the Irish Government, through its puppet quango -Irish Water- now wants us all to fork out good money for.
Irish Water itself has been embroiled in controversy over set-up costs and overblown consultancy fees from its very inception. John Tierney, head of Irish Water, always insisted that the Government was fully aware of such exorbitant fees from the outset. At the time, however, ministers claimed they ‘heard it on the radio‘.
Whatever the case may be, Irish Water is here to stay. lt is claimed that 115,000 meters have already been installed around the country. Precise details of exactly how much of our money will be taken from us by this new utility company have yet to be fully clarified, as amounts seem to range from 280 to 500. The final figure will probably be far higher. Low-income households, already on the brink of collapse over the raft of other charges and taxes already imposed, will be pushed to the very limit.
It was originally claimed -before the local and European elections- that every child in the country would receive free water allowance of 104 liters per day, which equates to about 38,000 liters per year). Now, based on their own research, Irish Water claims that children appear to consume less water than originally believed. Hence, they are attempting to reduce this allowance. Perhaps we should all begin considering water rationing for our younglings, as if we lived in a post-war era.
The Government is treading dangerous water (pun fully intended) with this one. With a little bit of luck, it will prove a tax too far for this bunch of washout politicians.