Wednesday 7 December 2016

First step out of water quagmire is to admit it has been a shambles

Eddie Molloy

Published 08/08/2015 | 02:30

A referendum will be held in the first 100 days in office of the next government to ensure Ireland's water utility will never, ever be privatised. This is a defining issue for a proportion of non-payers.
A referendum will be held in the first 100 days in office of the next government to ensure Ireland's water utility will never, ever be privatised. This is a defining issue for a proportion of non-payers.

I once read an article entitled: 'Knee-Deep in the Big Muddy: Escalating Commitment to a Chosen Course of Action', which described how, like a desperate gambler hoping against hope to get his money back on the last race and to save face, people often compound their initial risky miscalculation by trying one more big bet to redeem the situation. But the Irish Water debacle beats them all

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The latest opinion polls suggest that the Irish Water story will dog the final months of the current administration, seriously undermining Fine Gael and Labour prospects in the impending election. Much more importantly, the polls point to a period of unstable government and, given the opposition promises to "scrap Irish Water", interruption of the long overdue engineering programme to deliver clean water to every home in Ireland, to stop fouling our lakes, rivers and beaches and to ensure an adequate supply to Dublin.

There is a way out of this quagmire but it will involve something uncommon among Irish politicians, an admission, while still in office, that they got it badly wrong and that in the public interest they are going to exercise good government by doing the right thing, regardless of the political consequences. Ruarí Quinn's reversal of policy on DEIS schools is a rare example.

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