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What if you were Minister for Finance with €1 billion to play with?

Spend it all on booze, yokes and fags?

Or waste it?

Finian Murphy writes:

In 2017, the Government plan to spend an additional €1 billion on public services or reducing taxes. From health to education and pensions to transport, we all rely on taxes to pay for services – but what do you think the right mix is

…Our (Ignite Research) online tool allows tens of thousands of people tell us how they would like the Government to spend our money. [click at link below]

The People’s Budget

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From top: Eoin Ó Broin and Pat Kenny

Another week.

Another foam-flecked Sinn Féin smackdown on the wireless as Newstalk‘s Pat Kenny and Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Fein spokesman on housing, discuss scrapping water charges this morning.

Tay and a scone.

Pat Kenny: “Today in the Dáil, Sinn Féin will propose to scrap water charges for good. We know that it’ll that probably change absolutely nothing. The motion will likely be defeated because even though they say they’re in favour of scrapping water charges, Fianna Fáil will vote against the motion. What’s the point? A waste of time, or showing up Fianna Fáil’s confused stance on the issue? With me in studio is SF TD for Dublin Mid-west Eoin O’Broin, Eoin, good morning to you.”

Eoin Ó Broin: “Morning, Pat.”

Kenny: “Can I ask you about the chamber? When you got back did it look the same?”

Ó Broin: “There is a new e-voting system that for the first time officially allows TDs to abstain if that’s what they wish to do.”

(talk over each other)

Kenny: “And if someone is as láthair [toilet], then obviously there’s no vote as well.”

Ó Broin: “It’ll save an enormous amount of time, throughout this entire Dáil term we’ve had to do manual wal kthrough votes that take twenty minutes per vote, so if you’ve five or six votes on a Thursday, it’ll save time…”

Kenny: “It’s tedious.

Ó Broin: “Well, not tedious. It just wastes significant amounts of time, so that’ll speed that whole process up.”

Kenny: “And you’ve total confidence in the system, you won’t have deputies standing up and saying, I want to see the real thing?”

Ó Broin: “As you vote, you see your vote coming up on the screen, so if there’s any difference between how you vote and what comes up, you can easily have that rectified.”

Kenny: “You think all the deputies will go along with the new system and accept it. Now, it may come into play tomorrow, when you have a vote on your motion. Why are you doing this [introducing legislation to scrap water charges]? The Commission is going to talk about it, the majority are against the charges, what is there to vote over?”

Ó Broin: :”To flip that question over, if there are a majority of TDs that are against water charges, why waste everyone’s time and money on a so-called independent commission?”

Kenny: “The motion won’t do anything, it’ll just indicate intent on behalf of the Dáil, don’t you need to enact legislation to get rid of legislation that put it there in the first place?”

Ó Broin: “First of all, opposition parties propose motions all the time. The purpose of proposing motions is to challenge the government of the day. 300,000 people voted for Sinn Féin, one of the reasons they did so was to address this issue, so am I wasting time? Absolutely not, I’m fulfilling my democratic mandate.”

Kenny: “We’ve had water marches, we’ve had all sorts. It’s there, you don’t have to raise it.”

Ó Broin: “One of the reasons why Fianna Fáil shifted its position again from suspension to outright abolition, is due to pressure placed on them by Right2Water, the demos, Sinn Féin. So these things are very, very important, and not a waste of time. But the question is, if Fianna Fáil are for abolition, why would they not support the motion? The purpose of this motion is to put pressure on the government, pass the motion and get it into legislation. But if they want the charge scrapped, they should do what we’re doing and put the pressure on the government to bring forward this legislation.”

Kenny: “I know you’ve sought legal advice (and other ministers) have sought advice as well, the legal advice is conflicting. Those against water charges seem to find experts who agree with them and those who are for seem to find experts who agree with them, that you cannot remove it because the protocol has been established by FF originally. So that’s what the commission is going to look at, what needs repair, how much it’s going to cost, blah, blah, blah. They’re going to come out with a finding. Why would you pre-empt that finding, because if you bring in legislation against water charges, and the EU insists on them staying, the legislation is invalid?|

Ó Broin: “Those who say the Water Framework Directive requires water charges haven’t read it or taken time to understand it. And Lynn Boylan [Sinn Féin MEP] has sought legal advice on this issue. It’s about a series of environmental framework objectives, so long as you are meeting those objectives, water charges are irrelevant.”

Kenny: “Why am I getting all this wrong, then? Europe has been telling us we had water charges, we had it in place and we had reached the point of no return.”

Ó Broin: “That’s not what the EC was saying for two years. For two years, MEP were sending questions along the lines of “does Ireland have access to the water derogation”? And what they were saying in writing, up to a few months ago, was they cannot answer that question until they see the River Basin Management Plan, submitted next year, which shows how government will meet the environmental objectives. What then happened was, despite this stated position and the correct one by reading the directive, was they came back and said you cannot reverse water charges. As long as you show through your plan and your actions how you intend to meet these objectives, we believe we can. The thing about legal advice, even though we have complete faith in the advice commissioned by Sinn Féin, is it can be a matter of opinion.

Kenny: “Exactly why they’re called opinions.”

Ó Broin: “Ultimately the decision of a government, and the EC objected, they’d have to take it to court, and the interesting thing there is the Commission took the German government to court recently because they were of the view that the German government weren’t charging enough for certain types of water usage. The Commission lost because the German government proved they were meeting those objectives.”

(talk over each other)

Kenny: “This is all politically very convenient. But, if you can leave your tap on all night under Sinn Féin, that, patently, is daft.”

Ó Broin: “In any conversation, we have to have it based on facts.”

Kenny: “No, no, no, answer that question, if I decide to leave that tap on, water my garden all summer, I can do so with impunity under your protocol.”

Ó Broin: “If you talk to Irish Water, household water usage is below EU average. We’re not wasting water.”

Kenny: “Stop giving me that nonsense! Answer the question. Why is it socially responsible to turn on the tap, and never turn it off, and not pay? Simple question, give me a simple answer, if you can.”

Ó Broin: “If you don’t mind my saying, it’s a ridiculous question.”

Kenny: “Why?”

Ó Broin: “People don’t do that.”

Kenny: “In the Winter, people are afraid of frost, because they haven’t lagged their attic, they turn on the taps, to keep the pipes from freezing, it’s irresponsible. Under your regime, it would cost nothing.”

Ó Broin: “You say it’s irresponsible for people to keep their pipes from freezing?”

Kenny: “Ah, come on! Don’t be facile, don’t be facile! The point is under your regime, you could turn on the tap, all day, all night and pay absolutely nothing.”

Ó Broin: “Under our regime, the problems of wastage would be addressed and fixed, and households educated on waste water, but if you look at the statistics, you’ll see we are under the average. 50% of wastage is lost in a decrepit infrastructure that is the responsibility of the government. If our priority is to reduce waste, where are we going to start?”

Kenny: “Are you going to answer the question, are you going to answer the question about the irresponsible householder?”

Ó Broin: “What’s irresponsible is the government that won’t invest in tackling the 50% of water wastage in the distribution system.”

Kenny: “Where’s the money going to come from?”

Ó Broin: “General taxation.”

Kenny: Let me put this point to you, your support, your votes, come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, out of work, can’t find work, and therefore pay no tax. So what you’re doing is shifting the burden onto the so-called ‘squeezed middle’, because people who pay no tax have no fear of general taxation.

Ó Broin: “A bizarre way of looking at it, Pat. In my constituency, one in four voters voted for me. That means that people on no incomes, low incomes and middle incomes voted for SF.”

Kenny: “Do you not say your support comes from those areas?”

Ó Broin: “It comes from working people and unemployed people. All of these people pay tax. They pay income tax, they pay VAT. Now, what is the best and most and reassured way of paying for infrastructure over the next ten years? Through a cross-party commitment in our opinion, on investing from general taxation. You wouldn’t have to raise levels of taxation, Pat.”

Kenny: “Sorry, sorry… You’re paying for something that is gonna cost 400 million a year. And you don’t have to raise taxes, where are you going to find this money? Hah?”

Ó Broin: “We don’t have to raise taxes because according to the Government’s own estimations on fiscal growth, the money will be there. It is the best way to do it, Pat, to upgrade the system, and to ensure that we have a water and sanitation system fit for purpose.”

Kenny: “You do describe yourselves as a socialist party, there’s no other socialist party in Europe that doesn’t agree with water charges.”

Ó Broin: “That’s not the case.”

Kenny: “Go on, which ones?”

Ó Broin: “There are several. In Scotland, there aren’t domestic water charges…”

Kenny: “There are.”

Ó Broin: “There aren’t domestic water charges…”

Kenny: “Rates.”

Ó Broin: “…or metered household charges. That’s a separate issue, that’s a form of local taxation.”

More to folly.

Listen here

Previously: “What Time’s The Bias Due?’

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This afternoon.

Kildare Street, Dublin 2

Musicians, including songwriter Phil Coulter Johnny, Duhan, Michael English, Tony Allen, Sibéal Ní Chasaide, Ruaile Buaile, Moxie and John Sheahan of The Dubliners, join Labour TDs, including party leader Brendan Howlin, to help launch the Music Bill 2016 calling for legislation for an Irish Music quota for music in Irish Radio.

Hozier on the hour every hour so.

About time/Fight.

Sam Boal/Rollingnews