Saturday 21 October 2017

Clean water costs – and nobody's going to cut waste by choice

Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

The middle of a heatwave is as good a time as any to talk about water charges. Engineer Charles Dwyer outlined to Drivetime (Radio 1) the technical challenges and solutions which will be faced in introducing metres.

He explained how the flow can be cut off to individual houses should they fail to pay, and made the point that there's nothing wrong with consumers of this precious, expensive resource actually paying for it.

Seems reasonable? Not so, according to Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley, who rolled out on The Last Word (Today FM), as if by rote, exactly the kind of tired left-wing ideology you'd expect.

"People can't pay", "people are already paying", "this is another source of revenue for government . . ." Well, yeah, exactly – that's the whole point. Clean water costs, and the State has to get the money for it somewhere. Besides, nobody reduces wastage by choice, they need a financial incentive.

On a different topic, a reader emailed to request more coverage of local stations. Obviously, for a national paper, you have to concentrate on national radio, but there's no harm veering off the beaten track, so I'm giving a shout-out to two good regional efforts.

First, Morning Focus, on my local station Clare FM. Hosted with smooth professionalism by John Cooke, it's a nice mix of local stories and wider themes.

The Irish History Show on Near FM, meanwhile, is exceptionally good. Indeed, the whole station is exceptionally good.

Presented by Cathal Brennan and John Dorney, the programme tends to look at unusual, even ignored, aspects of Irish history. Their most recent episode, for instance, discussed the Molly Maguires, a secret society based among Irish miners in Pennsylvania during the 1860s.

Other topics have included Irish radicals in Scotland, women in World War I and links between Irish nationalism and Zionism. Very interesting material, and all fresh to these ears, at least.

Near FM, a community media project in Coolock, Dublin, has broadcast some of the most imaginative and fascinating radio of any station. Readings from Joyce's Dubliners, talks on how capitalism affects society, specialist music shows (some of them quite obscure, in a good way) and more.

It goes to show that big budgets aren't half as important as old-fashioned creativity and enthusiasm.

dmcmanus@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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