EVEN though it is the biggest political stick the opposition parties have to beat the government with going into the next election campaign, the Irish Water debacle is just one of several messes they will have to answer for to voters, including the state of the public health service, the housing shortage and unresolved problems with mortgage arrears, amongst many more. Most of these are ongoing legacy issues the current administration inherited on coming into office in the depths of an economic downturn and are ones with no quick-fix solutions as they require sustainable long-term investment.
Despite the government currently presiding over the fastest-growing economy in Europe, the thorn in their side that is Irish Water is self-inflicted – from the unwieldy cost of setting up the public utility company to the embarrassing rejection by Eurostat of the fantasy accounting proposals put to them to take the company off the public balance sheet. It is little wonder they were shot down, given the government’s convoluted water conservation grants bribery scheme and the folly was truly scuppered when less than half those sent bills for water paid them.
However, some welcome investment in tackling the problems with our water supply infrastructure has already taken place and there is a long-awaited overall plan in place, which needs to be adhered to with continued investment, be it through Irish Water or by whatever means the next government chooses. While we have seen so much falling freely from our skies in recent months, water of the potable variety still comes at a considerable cost.