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Give us major water changes to turn off tap of public anger

The ongoing controversy and public uproar about water charges shows no sign abating.

Last Saturday upwards of 150,000 people protested against the system. Were it not for the appalling weather conditions that number would have been doubled.

In any case, the determination of tens thousands of law-abiding citizens surely sent shivers down the spine of every minister in Leinster House.

The public anger did force a response. On Monday ,Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, flanked by Irish Water boss John Tierney, publicly apologised for the fiasco.

threatened

His remarks were in contrast to Enda Kenny's more immediate reaction last Saturday, when he threatened an increase of 4pc in income tax if the Government were forced to abolish water charges.

Yesterday Kenny admitted things were not done as they should have been.

The people could have told him that from the off. These are the same people who've endured the harsh Universal Social Charge, the Local Property Tax, pension and insurance levies, the removal and denial of medical cards.

The subsequent introduction of water charges, in an arrogant and high handed manner, was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Earlier this year over €50m of taxpayers' money was paid to experts and consultants - an extraordinary amount.

Then we learn that the staff of Irish Water were to be paid 'performance related awards' (bonuses, to you and me) - before all homes even have their meter installed.

Now let me say here that I believe that hygienic and safe drinking water is a precious resource and in principle I am not opposed to paying a reasonable amount for it.

revolt

I am, however, opposed to the utility company that is Irish Water. Only a root and branch overhaul of this benighted company is now acceptable to the vast majority of Irish people.

There should be an introductory period of up to five years for the establishment for this important utility.

A flat rate of €100-a-year should be levied per household over this five year period.

A referendum should be held to enshrine in the constitution that Irish Water would remain a public utility and never be privatised.

I believe these measures would go some way to assuage the public anger and growing revolt, and restore confidence and trust in Irish Water.

Anything less and the protests will continue.


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