Monday, April 16, 2012

The Politics of Water Meters

Enda Kenny and Richard Bruton were today out in force talking about water meters.  Kenny, amidst some hecking in Roscommon, repeated the position that someone had to pay, and so people would pay.  But, he added, nothing had been decided yet.  Which meant that, erm, maybe we didn't have to pay after all?  Bruton, quoted in the same piece, was talking all warm and fuzzy about water meters being people's friends, and friends of businesses, saving them from the odiousness of compensating for someone else's waste.

We're only talking about the water meters here, not the charges.  I mean, Dear Lord, where were these lads got?  And where's Big Phil Hogan, Minister for Sneaky Taxes when you want some cannon fodder?  Kenny shouldn't be fronting this thing, his role is above that.  On the Pat Kenny show today (podcast), Pat mentioned that his information had the meter's priced between €35 and €75, and the casing at €40, which is in or around €100, which isn't much.  Coming out fast with something that says people can pay fifty cents a week for four years for the meters sounds like a whole lot of sense.  Would completely take the sting out of it.  And a consultation group with the dissenters in the Dáil - ringfenced around water charges - would bring them into the decision making process too, and blunt their blade.

The ULA are doing serious damage to the government and its credibility.  People who would never vote for them are taking cover under their public quasi-official position of "don't pay."  The ULA folks are claiming this as an endorsement, but polls don't put them anywhere near the kind of 50% support they're claiming as a result.   The government is in essence allowing the ULA a false legitimacy, which will get progressively worse, and which is borne of the arrogance of the government.  Whatever you say about Bertie Aherne, he was never too arrogant to talk to anyone - anyone! - and that was one of the secrets of his success.  The government needs to sit down with the ULA and get them onside, fast.  

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