Friday 13 December 2019

Try explaining the Irish Water debacle to a Martian

If a Martian was tuning in to the Irish Water discussion, she/he would hear:

1. A public sector group of politicians sets up a utility at the behest of a European group of public sector central bankers;

2. The details are designed by public sector civil servants;

3. These are then implemented by ex-public sector and semi-state executives and managers - and it is such a good example of the workings of the public sector that we need a referendum to ensure that it stays in the public sector!

The privatisation issue is complex and best approached pragmatically, but in the two privatisations I was involved in:

1. We did not "pass on" waste to our customers by locking in restrictive practices and overmanning for 15 years - rather, we removed waste (including lots of senior positions to create the space for internal promotion of talent and commitment);

2. We immediately removed promotion by seniority and extra pay for just being there and instead promoted talent at all levels (often supported by union reps once we established trust);

3. We explicitly changed the culture of entitlement and perks to one of service to the customer and community.

Irish Water was an opportunity to demonstrate what a group of committed and talented Irish people could do in building a world-class utility from the bottom up.

Our so-called leaders did the precise opposite. Tragic.

Frank Devine

Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

Mum's letter struck a chord

Donna Hartnett's letter (Irish Independent, November 11) was heart-wrenching. She is speaking for thousands of young families.

One issue I would like to take up with journalists is a term that maddens me - "ordinary people". Which of us are not the "ordinary people"? What makes people non-ordinary? How do I become non-ordinary? Essay please on this - is the term only found in Ireland?

Great paper- keep up the good work.

Imelda Walsh

Address with Editor

There are few things that will turn me to tears but the letter penned by Donna Hartnett was it for me this time.

Reading her letter, I felt she had hidden cameras in my house, as she encapsulated how I feel day in, day out.

Her interview with you (Irish Independent, November 12), where she says, "Ordinary working people are in a prison of bills, debts and taxes. People who never took a gamble on the property or stock markets," had me nodding continually as I read each word.

When she spoke of her child being sick and her first thought was about work and her job, I felt a huge pain in my heart. I've been there, done that, and bought that T-shirt. My mother (a saint in my eyes) has brought my daughter at least three times to her GP in the last two years, because I work full-time and it's impossible to take a day off at short notice, and unfair to my employer.

My thoughts of the future are encapsulated in the words of another Irish person: "When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old, I know that it is" (Oscar Wilde).

Fiona Purcell

Drogheda, Co Louth

A priest protests

It is time for us all to unite in peaceful, but firm, protest against the water charges.

We should do this as an act of social justice, and as a belated statement of solidarity with the thousands of Irishmen and women who simply cannot take anymore. We should protest against the charges in themselves, but also at the persistent lack of good communication, which has, in turn, led to unnecessary fear.

Our water system needs to be repaired and properly maintained. However, I believe every citizen in this country is entitled to a basic amount of water, to wash, to cook, to launder. This calculated average amount of water should be free. After this, and only then, should charges be introduced.

Here are some ways I would like to suggest for effective peaceful protest:

1. Wherever a member of the government parties is speaking, select a member of the audience to throw a shoe up beside or past them.

2. Wherever a member of the government parties is speaking, arrange for the audience to stand and turn their backs on them.

3. Present public representatives, who do not clearly oppose water charges, with your written resolve not to vote for them at the next election.

4. Arrange for public ceremonial burning of the water packs.

We could call it the shoe, back, no vote and burn protest.

Fr Joe McDonald

St Matthew's, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10

No love for 'Love/Hate'

For many years, Irish audiences were entertained on a Sunday night by 'The Riordans', 'Bracken' and 'Glenroe', dramas centred on the lives of people living in rural Ireland.

These are now replaced by a new drama series 'Love/Hate', a show depicting life in Dublin's criminal underworld. It has gripped the nation. Old Ireland appears to be dead and gone - are our values, respect and decency heading for the grave with it?

Thomas Dennigan

Newtowncashel, Co Longford

GAA's capital gains

I would like to make a few comments on Eugene McGee's article (Irish Independent, November 10).

With the population that Dublin has, and the very many more clubs and players, if they have the proper organisation and commitment then they are bound to have more players of the required calibre than, say, smaller counties like Carlow or Longford.

This has become very obvious over the past 10 years. If Offaly were to beat Longford and play Dublin in O'Connor Park, why would Dublin get 15,000 tickets (rather than 10,000) out of 20,000? Why are clubs in Dublin not based on parishes, as in other parts of the country? And why do some other clubs draw from several parishes and consequently have a huge population of players, compared to some tiny parishes down the country?

Name and Address with Editor

Long live the letters page

I wish to welcome back Mr Declan Doyle to your letters page after a pretty long absence (Irish Independent, November 11). Of all your contributors, and I have contributed a few letters myself in the past, his submissions were well balanced and insightful, and just like Mr Downey said last week, I hope the Irish Independent is not dropping the letters page on a Monday. As he said, it is the first page I read. Others read the sports or business first and that's fine. Me, I just like to see what people are thinking.

We hear far too much from politicians, celebrities and every other media-junkie. The letters page lets ordinary people talk back. In truth, it should be mandatory for the political class to read the letters page. I look forward to continuing to read Messrs Doyle, Downey, O'Sullivan, Doran, Fitzgerald et al in the future.

Also, I am delighted Ian O'Doherty is now in the mainstream op-ed section. There is far too much consensus among opinion formers and a contrarian and part-time satirist is always welcome.

Frank Buckley

Tullamore, Co Offaly

Let's get some perspective

The CSO tell us that the average household spends €26 per week on alcohol. There have been over 5 million trips abroad by Irish people so far this year. There have been 95,000 cars sold this year to date, with an average cost per car of €20,000.

The people who holiday abroad, spend huge amounts on alcohol and buy new cars - are these the same people who now say they cannot afford the water charges?

Eunan McNeill

Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss