Friday 15 December 2017

Editorial: It's like deja vu all over again

John Tierney, Managing Director of Irish Water. Photo: Maxwells
John Tierney, Managing Director of Irish Water. Photo: Maxwells

Even in Irish public life the New Year is generally informed by some spirit of 'bliss it was in that dawn to be alive' where, despite all of the cautionary tales from the past, we can hope to chart better ways of doing things.

Sadly, after less than a fortnight, already the American baseball player Yogi Berra's famous quote of 'it's like deja vu all over again' appears to represent an appropriate summation of the state of the nation. For all the talk of democratic revolutions, little appears to have changed from the laissez faire state of governance of the Ahern era. Who could blame our citizens in the wake of that spectacle where, amidst a flurry of hotly contested accusations about cronyism and soured relationships, the Limerick City of Culture festival managed to lose its chief executive and artistic director in a week, for feeling that they are eternal inhabitants of the land of Animal Farm? The spectacle of 'deja vu once again' escalated in the wake of the furore over the expenditure that has accompanied the establishment of Irish Water.

It is an astonishing reflection on the bourbon tendencies of our elites that even before the first bills drop through the doors, the flagship company of the Coalition bears an unnerving similarity to the HSE and Nama Frankensteins. The starkest comparison was provided by the Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness who confirmed that, despite the controversy about €100m being spent on the set-up of Irish Water to date, the organisation cannot be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), and cannot be compelled to appear before the Public Accounts Committee. Significantly this is not some legacy issue left by FF to despoil the hapless virgin brides of Fine Gael and Labour for Irish Water is the Coalition's creation.

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