The imposition of the new Troika-dictated water tax on Irish households by the Fine Oibre coalition government has started to make international headlines, particularly as protests around the country get more voluble. From BBC News:
“The Emerald Isle can thank a damp climate for its greenery, with plenty of rain and no shortage of water. But a drought of investment for decades means its water infrastructure falls short of international standards.
The people of Boyle must boil their tap water as it is unfit to drink, contaminated by bacteria that out-of-date treatment plants cannot purify.
As he leaves a shop in the town clutching large bottles of water, Sean O’Dowd says he no longer takes any chances.
“You’re going to be violently sick for 24 hours – it’s as simple as that. It has happened to me twice. But not a third time.”
Responding to public anger, an eleventh-hour discount from water charges has been announced for those with undrinkable tap water, but it will not help some businesses.
Raising money from water charges was a condition imposed on Ireland by the EU-IMF-ECB troika as part of the country’s bailout in 2010 following economic collapse.
Protests have taken place in different parts of the country, usually when contractors come to install meters for the new water-charging regime.
At one such demonstration in a west Dublin suburb, contractors watch from their vans as residents chant: “Irish water will be free, from the river to the sea.”
“We could supply the rest of Europe with water – we get that much of it. We’re all wondering now what’s going to happen – are they going to charge us for air?” asks another protester.
Paul Parsons is not involved in the protests but, standing outside his front door, he expresses a view which he claims is widespread among his neighbours.
“I don’t think the government realise how much of a burden it would be to the people around this area who are already stretched financially – paying tax after tax after tax – and this is just one tax too far.”
Demonstrations elsewhere in Dublin have been angrier – with some protesters warned they could face jail if they breach court orders.
Until now, water was funded from central and local government taxes – but paying for an essential that seemed to come for free appears to have generated more steam than most austerity cuts – with phone-ins and talk-shows deluged with debate over the measure.
Revelations that 86m euros is being spent on consultants to set up a new state-sponsored company in charge of water services, Irish Water, led to a national political storm.”
Remember: we are already paying for our water supply and treatment through general taxation, and have been doing so for many years. So-called water charges are simply double-taxation with the long term objective of subjecting ordinary citizens to an inescapable (and perpetual) service monopoly. A monopoly that will almost certainly be privatised at some stage in the future and to the considerable benefit of those involved in its establishment.
This is one Irish political scandal that is set to grow and grow in the years ahead.