Bin fiasco is no excuse for fantasy politics
Published 21/06/2016 | 02:30
The level of maturity in the political system is being tested by the bin charges controversy. The move to a system of pay by weight has been mishandled and badly communicated. But that doesn't mean that the principle of the polluter paying isn't sound. The change will encourage recycling and result in less waste going to landfill.
Concerns have rightly been raised about how the new system will be introduced and a knock-on rise in prices for the householder - which was not the intention.
As a result, the proposal on the table is a 12-month delay in the transition to the new system, with a price freeze in the meantime. During this hiatus, an information campaign can help people to cut down the amount of waste being thrown in the black bin. And, more importantly, the Government can put adequate supervision of private bin operators in place to protect consumers.
The scenario is less than ideal but going ahead as planned is fraught with hazards and would be unfair to families who are already burdened with additional costs.
However, the suggestion that this is an argument for nationalisation of the bin-collection system, to be paid for out of general taxation, borders on the ridiculous.
Let's just remember: councils had a monopoly on bin collection and gave it up due to an inability to run it in an efficient or economically viable fashion.
Of course, the proponents of such a policy never say where the money would come from - the taxpayer.
By all means be critical of the Government for the botched delivery of this changeover. But let's not pretend this is an excuse to turn back the clock and engage in fantasy politics where everything comes for free.
Official apathy on record refugee levels is shameful
If you don't solve problems, problems will come to you, said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi yesterday, as he revealed that a record 65.3 million people are now uprooted worldwide. It is regrettable that any human being fleeing conflict and fearing for their life might be regarded as "a problem". These people did not start the wars from which they are forced to run - they are the victims of them. And yet many find themselves and their children exiled from their homes and refused sanctuary because of the absence of a collective will to either recognise their plight or engage constructively to stabilise the global flashpoints in which they are trapped. John Steinbeck wrote that: "All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal."
The fact that we are now setting new records for the number of refugees puts the scale of that failure in context.
The world seems to view fighting in Syria, Afghanistan, Burundi and South Sudan as inevitable. As if there is no moral imperative to engage. There is indifference to the hunger, the terror and the desperation of these people, millions of whom are children. As Mr Grandi said: "We need action, political action to stop conflicts, that would be the most important prevention of refugee flows."
Yesterday, Leonard Doyle, Director of Communications at the International Organization for Migration, spoke scathingly about the lack of leadership in Europe over the migrant issue. Earlier this year Peter Sutherland, special UN representative on migration, decried our failure to help our most vulnerable people, saying it reflects an extraordinary breakdown of morality in the international community. But the fact that so little is being done, and with such ill grace, challenges the very notion that there actually is an "international community".