Inconvenient truths and the Irish Water saga
Published 06/08/2015 | 02:30
A cynic will tell you that 99pc of all statistics only tell about 49pc of the story. A bit like beauty, they seem to vary according to the eye of the beholder.
In the case of the Eurostat report - which drove a tank over whatever foothold the Government had on credibility regarding Irish Water - the Coalition is now fighting back.
Who is to say that the bureaucrats in Brussels didn't make a few mistakes in their calculations? But the Irish Water farce goes way beyond figures in a margin.
Credibility is something that has to be earned - it is not conferred by computing numbers.
The Government accuses Eurostat of misrepresenting "fundamental issues of fact" when it ruled that the utility's borrowings must remain on the nation's books.
As a result, our Central Statistics Office (CSO) has been despatched to the front to immediately clarify 26 serious concerns it has with the Eurostat report. It is not yet on the scale of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it is heady stuff, nonetheless.
The Department of the Environment has attacked what it calls "grossly erroneous" research. It doughtily defends the independence of Irish Water.
It is a "standalone" company, which is not controlled by the Government. Evidently, Eurostat has caused huge embarrassment for the Coalition and it is not about to take it lying down.
But this whole saga has caused huge embarrassment to the nation. The case for a water authority capable of stopping over 50pc of this vital and precious commodity running into the ground is overwhelming.
The infrastructure needs urgent investment. The figure to sustain a water supply to the country is conservatively put at just over €1bn annually.
Therefore charges are inevitable.
That might not be popular with protesters but it is a statistic that can't be avoided.
There are many "inconvenient truths" in this debacle.
The Government says Eurostat's research was littered with basic errors. So too was the Government's handling of this whole affair.
The truth is, most of us have heard more than enough about Irish Water. We want a utility fit for purpose, one that will fix the cracked pipes and deliver a clean, efficient product.
Once this is guaranteed the arguments, and all the leaky logic against paying, will quickly dry up.