Sunday 17 June 2018

Fianna Fáil was a washout over water - and now we could all be left high and dry

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy speaking to media at the Stameen estate in Drogheda, Co Louth, about the water shortages. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy speaking to media at the Stameen estate in Drogheda, Co Louth, about the water shortages. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Martina Devlin

Martina Devlin

I've just had a refreshing shower. There was rain overnight, but water didn't fall straight into my bathroom from the sky. It arrived through a pipe. Useful devices, pipes. They don't last forever, though. Irish Water says 1,000km of pipes need to be replaced by 2021.

So who pays for repairs? Protests made it plain to politicians that people expect water to be funded from general taxation, and charges have been abolished. Some two-thirds of households paid up in the end, but it was a particularly unpopular tax.

Ding-dong, the witch is dead. But pause the celebration. General taxation cannot hope to upgrade an outdated water system that's been underfunded for decades - since Fianna Fáil was elected on a pledge to abolish domestic rates in the 1970s, in fact. General taxation has a lot on its plate, between housing and health.

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