Tuesday 25 June 2019

Just over a third to pay Water Tax: poll

There are, despite the promises and threats, enough dissenters to scupper the charges

Protesters pictured outside Leinster House in Dublin. Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Protesters pictured outside Leinster House in Dublin. Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Gene Kerrigan

Gene Kerrigan

After the promises and the threats, after the smears about a "sinister fringe" and blood-curdling warnings that Paul Murphy TD will soon begin beheading government ministers - the results are in.

And 37pc of us intend to pay the water tax, while 30pc of us say we won't. And a total of 14pc say "it depends".

There are 9pc to whom the water tax won't apply, and the traditional 10pc who don't know.

The poll doesn't establish if the 10pc don't know whether they'll pay or if they don't know what the water tax is. There is, it seems, about 10pc of the population who in any given year spend almost as much time on the X Factor as they devote to contemplating Kim Kardashian's rear end, with hardly a moment left over for lesser matters.

Among Fine Gael supporters, the "yes" brigade rises to 70pc. This sounds like a high number, until you look at the small percentage of people who now support Fine Gael.

Among what are known as the ABs, the more prosperous members of society, the figure for those willing to pay is 56pc - which tells us that just over half of those who can afford to pay have decided it's okay to pay twice for water. Or, perhaps they agree with the fashionable right-wing urge to privatise. Or, perhaps they're resigned to the endless plague of taxes, charges, levies and cuts.

We could keep playing with figures all night, but the 30pc of those saying they won't pay makes the tax unsustainable.

And that assumes that every single "it depends" person will end up paying the water tax.

What exactly it depends upon isn't clear from the poll. It may well be it depends on whether they're part of a sizeable number of dissenters. It may be they want some more concessions.

It may be they want some guarantee that the rates won't rise once they register. (They will, folks, they will - and hugely. That's why they continue installing meters, while imposing a flat charge that doesn't need meters.)

Part of the Byzantine logic behind the water tax is that if they can gouge enough out of us through charges, the money they borrow through Irish Water won't go on the official books - it'll be all winks and nods. And this will keep them inside an EU rule about borrowing (although the EU, and everyone else, knows this is fiction).

The bottom line is that if anything like 30pc don't pay, the whole thing will fall foul of the EU rules to such an extent that not even Mr Draghi can pretend otherwise.

Through guillotines and sheer force of the numbers they now have in the Oireachtas, the Government is bulldozing the water tax through. It looked for a while as though the Seanad might justify its existence by acting independently. Then, the Endapendents - as John Crown has christened them - fell into line.

We're really independent, they told us, when Enda wanted to abolish them. We have a democratic function, they said. Those turkeys have now voted for Christmas.

Sunday Independent

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