Thursday 29 September 2016

Water debate is due to State's 'Rob Peter to pay Paul' approach

Published 22/04/2016 | 02:30

Water levy should be based on consumption and over-usage
Water levy should be based on consumption and over-usage

Much of the controversy around Irish Water has more to do with the detail of implementation than the substance of whether a water charge should exist or not. Everyone in the State is shocked at the sight of raw, untreated sewage entering the bays of coastal towns in a country which places a high value on tourism.

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Equally, the majority of people accept that the infrastructure, piping and treatment plants need major replacement and upgrading. Allied to this, the chemicals being added to 'purify' much of the water sources coming out of lakes with peat content may in the long term be cancerous. It's also unacceptable that thousands of people have to boil their water before use.

The first question is this. Why has this state of affairs been allowed to come about and how has the water service been neglected to such a degree?

It has been argued that monies taken out of general taxation down through the years were diverted to other areas, and that the water system was starved of resources as a result. In other words, water maintenance was one of the poor relations in the administration of government.

The fact that each local authority had control over its own water system is given as another reason for the haphazard approach to our water network. The case for a brand new utility solely concentrated on water management is made, in order to cure the defects of the old system. Nobody could disagree that a specific body charged with the task would have to be a huge improvement, as it can chart, co-ordinate, streamline, and prioritise its work, as well as employing experts in the field. The critical question is about funding.

It seems obvious that general taxation cannot solve this, as it appears to have failed in the past. The fact that money that should have gone to the water system in the past was diverted shows there was a 'rob Peter to pay Paul' approach at work and therefore general taxation was not enough to cover everything. Had the proper amount of money been allocated to the water system down through the decades, where would the overall shortfall have been felt? Health? Education ? It's a circular argument.

The water coming into one's house has to be treated, it does not fall from the sky straight into the system. The water leaving the house has to be treated as well. This all costs money.

These things have to be paid for. Where general taxation fails to provide for a proper water system, then the shortfall should be paid for by a levy based on consumption and over-usage.

Joseph Kiely

Donegal town, Co Donegal

The Bard and Irish Water

As Shakespeare wrote: "Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water."

Could this be applied to the political stalemate over Irish Water?

Eve Parnell

Dublin 8

Vegetarian? Pigs might fly...

And so it has come to pass that pigs can fly.

Peruse, if you will, the Aer Lingus website which offers a section on its in-flight menu for European flights. Under the sandwich section, there is a meat or vegetarian option.

However, on a flight from Paris ten days ago, the menu on board showed no vegetarian option. When I queried this, the hostess apologetically said that it was cancelled from the menu for economic reasons and that ham and cheese, being in greater demand, was now the only sandwich available. She suggested I write to customer services to fight for its reinstatement.

When I asked if she had cheese and crackers, she said had none either, but very generously gave me her own flight attendant's lunch, which included fruit, crackers and cheese. Obviously, a decision has been taken by the powers that be to axe the vegetarian option for Aer Lingus customers and, of course, the hostess is not at fault. That pigs are dying to fly in providing the ham and cheese option seems to be ignored by the executive decision-makers who came up with the new menu. Bring back the vegetarian option!

Fiona O'Brien

Sutton, Dublin 13

Amnesty misses the point

From my reading, Colm O'Gorman (Letters, April 20) seems to have missed the point of Cora Sherlock's letter.

He claims that Amnesty Ireland is not selective about which aspects of the abortion debate it will discuss. Yet once again, there is no mention of the unborn child whose life is ended in abortion. Does he or she not feature anywhere in Amnesty's campaign? If not, why not?

This is a question which I feel must be answered by Mr O'Gorman if he expects to be taken seriously in this debate. Abortion ends the life of an unborn child. Nothing he says can negate that fact.

Elaine Noonan

Glenageary, Co Dublin

Census is a capital crime!

The census takes place on Sunday night and the National League final between Dublin and Kerry takes place earlier the same day.

Since everyone must be enumerated in the place where they stay on Sunday night, it means that Kerry people who stay overnight in Dublin after the match will be enumerated as Dubs. Kidnapping Sam is bad enough, but kidnapping the supporters plumbs new levels of Jackeen perfidy. And not a whimper from the Healy-Raes.

Eamon Farrell

Swords, Co Dublin.

Don't fine non-voters

Patrick Murray states in his letter (Irish Independent, April 19) that those people who refuse to vote should be subject to a €50 fine. I believe that this would be totally against the notion of democracy, in a democratic state, a citizen has the right to abstain from voting. To force people to vote against their will is to deny people their rights as an Irish citizen.

Paul Byrne

Glenageary, Co Dublin.

Denmark comparison is wrong

During the current political impasse, much has been heard about how Denmark has functioned with a minority government.

What the advocates of this have failed to mention is that, in the 2011 election in Denmark, not one Independent was elected to parliament. It is also worth noting that the total votes of Independents was slightly over three thousand from a valid poll of over 3.5 million. So where does that leave Ireland as regards a valid comparison, since it appears that there no 'parish pump menus' that the parties who make up the government are forced to choose from?

Paul Connolly

Co Kildare

Irish Independent

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