Monday 24 October 2016

Letters: Water meters are simply throwing money down the drain

Published 02/07/2014 | 02:30

Water meters are proving controversial
Water meters are proving controversial

As I am witnessing the installation of water meters in my area, I am once again reminded of the folly and futility of this operation. The cost of Irish Water, the labour force involved, meters and other materials would probably provide for gold replacement water pipes in the system. At a time when we are allegedly broke and committed to gifting Europe with further billions, it seems daft to indulge in this money-eating project.

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The anticipated huge cost to each household must worry every citizen in the country. I am open to correction on this, but I seem to remember Irish Water intimating that in the event of a shortfall in revenue received, it would increase the water charge to make up the deficit – a licence to print money. And all the time consumer cash is drained from an ailing economic system.

Will anxiety and uncertainty over the amount of the charge lead to health and hygiene problems? Will toilets only be flushed once a day? Will showers become a luxury? Will outdoor flower beds be left barren? Will it in numerous ways adversely affect the quality of our lives?

Add to this the enormous cost of servicing the system, a new layer of bureaucracy, meter readers by the hundreds, huge administration costs and maintenance bills, and the length of time it will take to recover the initial outlay.

If a water charge has to be imposed, wouldn't it be much simpler and far less costly to do so in the same manner as the property tax with the appropriate exemptions, or to join the two together under some local charges heading? The water meter fiasco is a sure sign of a government and administration having lost the plot.

Statistics in the media today point out that children and adults in one out of every five households are living on or below the poverty line while we continue to throw countless millions literally down the drain on an unnecessary and ill-thought-out project.





Your wistful and wishful commentary on the exodus of Irish-trained doctors to foreign shores, flags a deeper malaise. (Editorial, July 1).

The dysfunctional relationship between the Leaving Cert 'points-race' and wannabe medics betrays a 'filthy-lucre' motivation for a majority (though not all) of prospective clinicians. High-points 'intelligence' tallies seem to be the overriding criterion in the competing academic gallop for assertive (usually middle-class) professional alignment. Money, social status and professional aggrandisement usually trump any inherent compatibility with the eventual coalface work, dealing with real people who are health-distressed.

Altruism, empathic orientation, or natural inclination towards authentic, egalitarian care are all in shortish supply for some aspiring medical students. For them money-money-money careerism feeds the surge towards medicine as a career .

So few candidates are hewn from the pure Hippocratic disposition of innate sensitivity and dedicated delicacy of respectful engagement. If only the balance of enthusiasms relating to financial reward and caring philosophy could be recalibrated, swopping primacies and priorities for the communal sharing of ability – for, of course, an appropriately decent reward.

However, the primitive call of the 'moolah' wins out for some at least.

Thus, it's inevitable that when the system here punches below the financial reward scale of overseas' remuneration templates, the cash-crop will surely lure some abroad. For some but obviously not all, there's no hint of gratitude or commitment to the Irish citizen who funded them through college, just a flighty exodus along the yellow-brick road of 'dosh-posh'. The sad thing is that so many prospective medical students who could precisely fit the salient empathy/sensitivity aptitude bill for suitability towards a selfless healthcare ethos, just fall short of the stringent points sluice-gate, and are inevitably lost to the profession.

There are, of course, many statutory/adminstrative labyrinths abounding in the system delivery, which are inefficient, impractical and unproductive. But surely, more young and able, newly-qualified clinicians could choose to stay around to work towards transformation of these, rather than jump ship.





The headlines of the Irish Independent (July 1) highlight the amount of pay-off to Maire Geoghegan-Quinn and the contempt this Government shows to the working people of Ireland, who have yet to see any of the green shoots the Coalition keep bragging about, not to mention the health service which is even more shambolic than during the Cowen era.

If Michael Noonan thinks we can be sweetened up for voting this crowd back in by reducing his trademark austerity in the Budget, he is grossly mistaken and would be better focussed in remembering the wipeout of Fianna Fail and the Greens in 2011. The election is drawing closer than many realise and the electorate need to see their money back in their pockets, and quickly – not in the pockets of the likes of Geoghegan-Quinn.





You know the way it is. You meet for a few drinks every now and then and enjoy the evening. Now, there is considerable concern about over-indulging in the country, and rightly so. The publicans, through their organisations, complain that they are not making a cent and business is bad. The latest from the medical profession is that three pints equates to binge drinking. It seems we, as a drinking nation, are in a bit of a quandary.

Well, we have a few jars and I decide to finish the night on a non-alcoholic lager. And so the prices of the drinks – pint of Guinness €4.70; pint of Heineken €5.20; 500ml bottle of non-alcohol Erdinger Lager €5.20. So why is alcoholic beer cheaper than non-alcoholic beer in pubs?

Publicans are constantly blaming supermarkets for cheap drink being sold and decimating their businesses and causing alcohol-related problems. But publicans charge more for non-alcoholic drinks than for alcoholic drinks. Surely it should be the other way around. Erdinger in off-licences retails for generally about €2, and I am sure there is a profit for the retailer in that.

So may I make a suggestion to the Finance Minister, a kind of pre-Budget submission so to speak from an ordinary Joe Soap? Scrap any duty on non-alcoholic beers and introduce a lower duty on low-alcohol beers and lagers so the likes of Guinness, which is mid-strength, and lagers with low alcohol levels might possibly get a hold in the market. And is it time to think about the cafe-bar idea again?

Maybe too it's time for the Brits to take over again. But this time with pub chains and give us some real competition in the pub business.

And to the publicans of Ireland – what about a bit of competitive pricing and a drink, be they alcoholic or non-alcoholic, at a fair and reasonable price.





I read with interest the letter from Joe Breen regarding profits of €65m in VHI. Very High Indeed.



Irish Independent

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