Thursday 20 October 2016

The Yates Anthology: Turning water into a whine

Published 29/08/2015 | 02:30

Ireland versus Wales (Aviva) sees our first XV back in action, as Joe Schmidt makes his final selection cull for a mouth-watering World Cup odyssey
Ireland versus Wales (Aviva) sees our first XV back in action, as Joe Schmidt makes his final selection cull for a mouth-watering World Cup odyssey

It's quietly anticipated that 40,000 people will attend today's fifth protest over Irish Water in Dublin. Aspects of Right2Water's campaign are probably disingenuous. The 1EU water directive means revenue charges must be obtained in every member state for public water supplies and sanitary services - whether done through a public utility or local council. Eventually, householders will have to pay. There's clearly a party political campaign element to this organised dissent, especially as trade unions widen agendas to target the Labour Party.

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The Government missed the last opportunity for a final U-turn to prevent the general election from being a referendum on Irish Water. It could have used the Eurostat verdict as a game changer to reverse engines. Ministers are now in an electoral quagmire, it is the hottest topic on doorsteps . Some 660,000 householders may have registered, but payments may actually decline as people observe that 54pc of homes aren't paying; in the event of abolition, there won't be refunds. Irish Water hasn't attained a tipping point of certainty, commercial credibility or sustainability.

My best guess is, a year from now, a new State apparatus will replace it as a precondition of formation of the next government.

Meanwhile, the Water Conservation Grant is beyond ridicule. It has no conditionality or connection with restraint of consumption. It's payable to everybody including non-clients. It is perhaps the most ridiculous welfare scheme ever.

These arguments seemed esoteric to me this week, when I sought to regularise my own household water account. Since 1982 in Enniscorthy our family homes are connected to a public water supply; we've paid Wexford County Council almost €1,000 per year. I registered and wrote to Irish Water last October 19 giving account details as part of our registration and explaining our metering system and compliance. Imagine my shock to be told that despite full up-to-date payments per thousand litres, they now insisted I pay twice for the same water as Council bills were deemed commercial, not domestic. WTF??

All family farms apparently have to pay twice for the same water. This is inexplicable arrant nonsense. They refuse to install secondary metres within one property. My apoplectic response was simple: "I will see you in court". Undoubtedly the imminent election canvas will reveal a multiplicity of similar bizarre anecdotes. For government candidates to hitch their wagons to this monstrosity is electoral suicide.

Sinn Féin at a crossroads

RThe voices of Catherine McCartney (sister of late Robert McCartney), Maria Cahill, and Paudie McGahon confirm that while the Provisional IRA's campaign of war against British military and terrorism may have ceased since 2005, organised crime still persists. Smuggling, money-laundering, extortion and vigilante activity cannot be compatible with totally democratic principles. Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan were caught badly offside last weekend officially denying these unacceptable connections still persist.

What was expediently pragmatic to turn a blind eye to in 2005, is no longer sufficient in 2015. Initial tolerance of transition phases from para-militarism to politics is ending. "Political" statements of blanket denials from Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly don't square with security assessments on Belfast streets and border counties. Cathartic changes for Sinn Féin are the only way forward.

How to beat the back-to-work blues

My few weeks of holiday therapy evaporated with an intense schedule of early morning radio and late-night TV this week. Respite is at hand. The weekend's two big matches are unmissable. Ireland versus Wales (Aviva) sees our first XV back in action, as Joe Schmidt (below) makes his final selection cull for a mouth-watering World Cup odyssey. Then Croker tomorrow. Pundits seem to think this semi will be a tight call, many narrowly favouring Mayo. Can't agree. Jim Gavin's preparations are meticulous; his record of three consecutive League and Leinster titles requires a second All Ireland.

Despite not meeting a Division I opponent in championship to date, I reckon half-fworwards Diarmuid Connolly, Ciaran Kilkenny and Paul Flynn will assert overall scoring dominance. Cluxton's astute kick outs, Dean Rock's free taking, Rory O'Carroll's man-marking of Aidan O'Shea and a stronger subs bench signal victory for the blues - by as much as seven points. At odds of 13/8, Dublin has never been as big a price all year for Sam, too tempting to resist.

Irish Independent

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