So local residents at Togher in Cork and Raheny in Dublin are refusing to allow domestic water meters to be installed in their estates by contractors from Uisce Éireann (Irish Water) resulting in a large posse of Gardaí descending on both communities. Just the headlines the Fine Oibre coalition needs in the run-up to local and European elections and with both government parties already displaying serious electoral jitters. Are these the first concrete signs that Seán and Síle Citizen is finally taking a stand when it comes to the imposition of iniquitous Euro-taxes, albeit with the encouragement of existing anti-austerity activists? Will the loftily self-entitled ministers of Fine Gael and Labour take the hammering they deserve come ballot day? The positively frigid reception for Ruairí Quinn, Minster for Education and autocrat par excellence, by the ASTI conference certainly indicates that the Éireannaigh are well and truly fed up by those who-would-be-kings (or at least act like kings). Whatever about in times past, of late teachers in Ireland have not been exactly noted for their rebelliousness and Quinn’s act went down like a lead balloon with the gathering (“feminisation” and all).
Perhaps one indicator of how badly the scandal-beset government has actually governed over the last few years is the need for it to focus on anything but its own governance when facing the electorate. So Labour Party and Fine Gael members have been advised to attack Sinn Féin, now the most visible face of the anti-austerity Opposition. Even the Green Party, as tepid an electoral threat as one could find, is to be targeted for opprobrium by worried FG and Lab activists. One is only waiting for the media establishment to role in behind Official Ireland, especially with its nose out of joint by the continued high-showing of SF and the Independents in the polls (Gerry Adams most popular party leader in Ireland? The screams from Talbot Street were audible all over the capital!). With a pretty dire record of government mismanagement, the ruthless imposition of misdirected taxation and cuts in public services aside, it is hard to see anything positive in three years of Fine Gael and Labour coalition rule. Something which they pretty much acknowledge themselves. One is reminded of the end of the premiership of Winston Churchill in Britain after World War II. He may have been perceived domestically as the man who “won the war” but he paid an electoral price for doing so. FG and Lab may have won their austerity war – but the electoral price for it is being calculated as I write.