Water fiasco is like a tracer that shines a light on all that is wrong with our political system
Last Thursday night on RTÉ's 'Prime Time' programme, Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart said that the water charges shambles in the Dáil earlier that day was "no longer about water, it is now about trust. Fianna Fáil is a party that keeps its promises and Fine Gael doesn't". In the same interview, having sought to claim the high moral ground, Mr Lahart then denied point blank that Fianna Fáil had contemplated introducing meters and hefty charges as recently as 2010.
The facts are that Fianna Fáil did advocate the establishment of a single national water utility along with meters and charges in 2010. Another fact is that Fianna Fáil's U-turn had all to do with not being outflanked by Sinn Féin and little to do with the substance of the matter, and likewise Sinn Féin's volte-face in its electoral battles with Paul Murphy.
Up to the moment, last year, when Simon Coveney's resolve weakened, conceding that Fine Gael may be open to discussion about water charges, 63.5pc of households had signed up to pay. Irish Water said that, such was the rate at which people were signing up, it expected the figure to reach 70pc soon thereafter. If we add a conservative estimate of 100,000 households who didn't sign up because, genuinely unable to pay, they would have qualified for a waiver, and add a similar number already paying for their own private water schemes, this means that well over 70pc of citizens were ready to comply.