Saturday 19 October 2019

FF realising that power carries responsibility

Micheál Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Micheál Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins


The sunny weather means the flip-flops will be dug out of the back of the wardrobe any day now for many with aspirations for walks along the beach at home or abroad in the coming months.

The flip-flop is already in use in Fianna Fáil as the party seeks to figure on what ground it stands on water charges. The bravado of the general election campaign is starting to give way to a sense of realism as the party has one hand on the levers of power.

Fianna Fáil's commitment to the abolition of water charges and the closing down of Irish Water sparked a flurry of cancellations of water bill payments. Even those who had previously abided by the law changed their view on water bills. If the charges would no longer be in existence, and the authority charged with collecting the bills was also made extinct, why would you bother to pay any more?

And those who hadn't paid their bills were left safe in the knowledge they would never be caught for payment.

Fine Gael also flapped around after the general election, suggesting the water charges payment regime was on the table in talks on the formation of a new government.

After suffering enormous losses because of the mismanagement of key issues like the implementation of water charges and the introduction of Irish Water, the party then discovered its spine and made it clear it was not for turning.

Now Fianna Fáil is indicating the half-a-million households who have not paid their water bills will have the charges deducted from their salaries or social welfare payments.

The party is still sticking to its view that Irish Water will have to be replaced by a slimmed-down model. Plus, it is still saying charges have to be suspended for five years.

But the confirmation that Fianna Fáil, like Fine Gael, intends to pursue those boycotting the charges removes another stumbling block to the two parties striking a coalition deal. It also signals that Fianna Fáil is growing up a bit and realising responsibility comes with power.

Irish Independent

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