Sunday 23 April 2017

A revolt by those who paid is the new water threat

Environment Minister Alan Kelly, left and John Tierney, managing director of Irish Water
Environment Minister Alan Kelly, left and John Tierney, managing director of Irish Water
John Downing

John Downing

Today the Government will find out whether or not "they have gone away". But this time it will be the anti-water charge protesters - not the IRA - as a protest goes ahead in Dublin. Fine Gael and Labour politicians, preparing an all-out election campaign, would dearly love to see the water charge issue at least downplayed in the forthcoming canvass.

As spring gave way to summer this year, that seemed likely, as bills began to drop and many citizens of middle Ireland felt they could live with them. But then a number of things happened to keep the issue live.

There was the revelation in mid-July that fewer than half the nation's households had actually paid their first quarterly charges. In late July it emerged that Irish Water failed the EU "market test," denying it stand-alone status to borrow for investment without driving up the national debt.

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