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Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy pictured during a visit to Stameen Estate, Drogheda, which has been struck by water shortages. Photo: Collins

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy pictured during a visit to Stameen Estate, Drogheda, which has been struck by water shortages. Photo: Collins

Colin Keegan

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy pictured during a visit to Stameen Estate, Drogheda, which has been struck by water shortages. Photo: Collins

Water takes on the shape of whatever holds it - any wonder it is all over the place, just like the Government charged with containing it.

If ever an issue crystallised the appalling lack of political leadership in this country it is the water crisis. Yesterday, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy warned it was entirely possible that similar leaks to the one in Drogheda - which has left almost 70,000 high and dry - could happen elsewhere. Irish Water believes there could be 46 potential flashpoints.

Mr Murphy revealed that there is "no funding certainty" for Irish Water, or the minimum €3.5bn urgently required to guarantee delivery for the future. It is competing with health and education. With no eye to irony, Mr Murphy further waffled on about "revenue streams", even as 50pc of our drinking water is lost to leaks.

There may be no guarantee where the funding will come from to deliver the one resource we cannot live without, yet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is quite confident he can deliver €170m to refund those who paid their water charges. Those who got the tens of millions paid out in the €100 conservation grant but refused to pay their charges can also hang on to their cash.

Meanwhile, a chorus from the hard left, which led the protest against what would have amounted to a €3-a-week per household charge, are now baying for more investment in water infrastructure.

Have we really turned our backs on "leprechaun economics" only to embrace "pixie politics", where a magic wand can be waved to meet every wish with no thought to social or environmental cost? The hard left has always preferred fable to fact, but responsibility for this fiasco goes across the full political spectrum. The silence from Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil is telling.

Safely watching from the wings, as Messrs Murphy and Varadkar flounder in the aftermath of a shambles they helped create through years of failure to invest, followed by a craven opportunistic U-turn on the water charges, hardly confers moral authority on the issue.

We have responsibility to protect our elderly

The growing savagery and wanton violence visited on the elderly asks the most searching questions of our society.

Such attacks terrorise and scar for life the most vulnerable and most deserving of protection in our community.

The brutal murder of two elderly brothers and the barbarous attack on an elderly woman are just the most recent reminders of a descent into depraved inhumanity that must be met with abhorrence.

It scarcely requires repeating that these shameful attacks threaten all our values and must be stopped.

Those who harm the old have to face the consequences, and the call by Age Action for judges to implement tougher sentences and for more gardaí to be deployed to protect the elderly must therefore be heeded.

Those who target and terrorise the frail and infirm have to know that the punishment will be severe. Coincidentally, yesterday also heard an appeal from rural groups not to cut text alert systems as it emerged that €800,000 unspent on personal alarms for the elderly could be reallocated. This cannot be allowed.

We have a societal responsibility to make sure that funding for vital services to the elderly is sacrosanct.

Irish Independent