From top, left to right: Charlie McConalogue TD, Barry Cowen TD, Jim O’Callaghan TD during government formations talks last year; Derek Mooney
On Monday, Derek Mooney speculated on the possible outcome of a deal between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael suggesting water charges were dead for both parties.
While the agreement on the future funding of domestic water as hammered out at the Oireachtas committee is not a bad one – the issue now is more about the process and the path to its arrival.
It proves the truth of the old adage, usually attributed to Bismarck: if you want to keep your appetite then there are two things you should never watch being made: laws and sausages.
The Committee report does include an important climbdown from the government that now accepts that there should be a future referendum on the public ownership of Irish Water.
The fate of individual metered water charges was sealed politically at the last election and sealed technically at the committee with the evidence given by the officials from Scottish Water.
Scotland does not have individual metering, the charge comes from the council tax (in our case from income tax) and they are held to be in compliance with EU Directives.
Most discussion at the Committee since that evidence has been a proxy battle between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael fought on extremely narrow grounds via lawyers and competing legal advice.
The outcome was a draw nil all draw, not that the result matters too much as the crowds had been so frustrated and irritated by the carry-on on the pitch that they stopped watching and went home ages ago.
The only outstanding questions are: why did no one in Government look at the Scottish model before now and what was all that furore and activity between 2011 and 2016?
Expensive wasted water under the bridge it seems.
Derek Mooney is a communications and public affairs consultant. He previously served as a Ministerial Adviser to the Fianna Fáil-led government 2004 – 2010. His column appears here usually every Monday. Follow Derek on Twitter: @dsmooney
Earlier: They Think It’s All Over
Monday: Pointless Water Torture
Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2
Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen (top) and Fine Gael’s Martin Heydon (above) address media following the final vote on the Draft Report of the Joint Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services.
The Dáil will today debate a motion on the final report while TDs will vote on the motion tomorrow.
The deal includes several Fianna Fáil concessions including a commitment to install water meters in newly built houses (see triumphant Irish Independent editorial below).
Editorial in today’s irish Independent.
They seem happy.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin promises the abolition of Irish Water at the 2015 Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis.
Yesterday: Watching The Meter
[Legal advice to the Oireachtas committee on funding of water] recommends that “levies” and not penalties be imposed on those who use excessive amounts.
The legal advice suggests that excessive usage should be set at 1.7 times the average household usage.
However, it later states that average usage would be decided on household size and also in line with average consumption, which is 133 litres per person, which Fianna Fáil has been proposing.
The advice proposes one further significant change: that it is mandatory for new builds to have meters, which was removed from the draft report last week.
Martin McMahon writes:
Anybody who is blessed with an older sibling has, at some time in their childhood, heard the “Mammy Says” half instruction half plea for you to do as your older sibling wants.
It’s a childhood thing, a tactic of coercion, a ‘you must do as I tell you because an authority figure agrees with me that you should’ power play.
Ultimately, it’s a sign of weakness, proof that the bossy older sibling has lost control.
This is exactly where Fine Gael are at in the Water Commission. Like overindulged toddlers in true blue babygrows, Fine Gael are throwing the rattle, the soother and the blankets out of the water charge pram.
They clutch to partisan EU opinions and legal advice as though they were handed down on Mount Sinai. They tell us that the Attorney General is infallible on water charges even as former Justice Minister Shatter calls for her head on foot of the Fennelly Commission report.
Fine Gael’s lack of humility, their ‘sore loser’ foot stamping, is an ignominious spectacle we are all forced to endure.
They lost the water charge argument at the last election, even the party faithful want it off the table as an issue. There are far more pressing problems piling up to be addressed.
Stop playing the spoiled brat Fine Gael, you lost, move on, LET IT GO.
Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic
In case you missed it.
Filmmaker Terry McMahon’s address to the Right2Water rally in Dublin last Saturday.
Stirring, in fairness.
From top: Sean Fitzpatrick; Jobstown portest in Dublin city Centre last Summer
Developments in the trial of the ‘Jobstown 23’ – for the alleged ‘false imprisonment’ of then Tanaiste Joan Burton – have put the right to a ‘jury of your peers’ under threat.
When the jury for Sean Fitzpatrick’s case was being selected, directions were given to jurors to exclude themselves if they had been strongly affected by the banking crisis, had been active in any campaigning groups, had been involved in anti-austerity protests, or had expressed themselves on social media about the banking crisis.
On that basis, juror 791 was excluded.
Now for the first adult false imprisonment #JobstownNotGuilty trial, the DPP is trying to stack the jury against the defendants. They have written to the seven defendants’ solicitors putting forward a proposed formula for excluding jurors, on an extraordinarily wide basis.
This includes excluding:
“People from the Jobstown/Tallaght area and people with such connections to the area as would give rise to a concern that they could not deal with the case impartially.”
“Persons who are active in any campaigning groups either for or against water charges (whether formal or informal).”
“Persons who have expressed themselves in public, whether on the Internet, in the print media (newspapers), broadast media (radio or television), on social media (including Facebook, Twitter, on-line comment pages of websites or newspapers or any other form of social media) or otherwise on publically available mediums, on issues concerning water charges and/or the events on the 15th November 2014….”
Ruling out people from Tallaght excludes a large working class community. Ruling out those active in campaigning groups for or against water charges would obviously exclude very few people on the pro-water charges side, but a large number of those against water charges.
It could even be stretched to exclude every member of a trade union, given that it is ICTU policy to oppose water charges.
Similarly, ruling out those who have expressed themselves on water charges publicly would disproportionately exclude those against water charges and younger people who are more likely to be active on social media.
What is being attempted is blatant – to exclude as many working class people and those against water charges.
On what grounds can it be suggested that people expressing views on water charges makes them incapable of being impartial in what is supposed to be a ‘false imprisonment’ trial?
Worryingly, the trial judge in court on Friday, March 31 described the DPP proposals as “very sensible”. A different judge, Judge Ryan, will make a decision on the proposal to exclude people from the jury on the first day of trial Monday April, 24.
The contrast with the Sean Fitzpatrick case should not be lost. Legally speaking, Sean Fitzpatrick and the Jobstown protesters are in the same position – they are defendants.
Yet in Fitzpatrick’s case, the jury was stacked in his favour. In the Jobstown case, the DPP is going all out to stack it against the defendants.
The difference? He’s a banker, they’re anti-austerity protesters.
Dublin city centre.
Thousands take to the streets for the latest Right2Water protest which included a rally in College Green featuring leading anti-water charge activists Brendan Ogle, Mary Lou McDonald TD, Paul Murphy TD and Joan Collins TD plus a performance by musician Glenn Hansard.
I am guessing we won’t see many of your commenters tomorrow but all who see this rightly as a victory for the people are most welcome….
Irish Water protest, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1 in August 2015
This Saturday, April 8, the Sinister Fringers are at it again.
But will you join the Walk of Shame?
Martin McMahon writes:
That rabble, that great unwashed and of course those dirty Dubs will take to the streets on Saturday to crow their victory over us good law abiding citizens.
It’s almost as if they don’t know that removing water costs from central taxation and giving the gains away in tax cuts to top earners like us is good for them too. When us rich folks have more money in our pockets, we occasionally drop a few coppers into the grubby outstretched hand of some homeless serf, everybody wins.
When the charges were first introduced the fringers complained that bills in excess of 600 were ‘too high’, I ask you, really? The price of one nice evening at the theatre with dinner afterwards is ‘too high’ a price for them to pay so that we can cut our top rate tax? Pull the other one!
Out of the goodness of our hearts, we agreed to cap the charges at 260 until all the proles were paying before we’d up it over a grand and they still weren’t happy!
Two hundred and focking sixty euro people, that’s 1 bottle of half decent wine, just drink something cheaper for a night, problem solved. Enda was wrong to give an inch to those whingers, should have locked the whole lot of them up.
Now that we’ve ensured a white collar only jury, that rabble rouser Murphy will get his comeuppance, the naivety of the hard left to think they’d get a fair trail in this country, Anglo friends stick together suckers.
It’s the country people I feel sorry for, forced to live in 6 bedroom mansions on sprawling lawns, they’ve been paying for water forever. Although forcing water charges on the sinister fringers won’t change the need for wells and septic tanks for our less fortunate country cousins, it will make them feel better to see the proles hammered into the ground, fair’s fair.
I hope they choke on their ‘Walk of Shame’, how dare they stand up to us. Why can’t they get it through their thick heads that they don’t matter, their votes don’t matter,
I know exactly where I and those like me won’t be on Saturday April 8th, we won’t be at Connolly or Heuston stations at 2pm.
Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic
Earlier: A Tide In The Affairs Of Men
Leinster House, Government Buildings, Dublin 2
TDs, including Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin, Catherine Murphy, co-leader of the Social Democrats and Richard Boyd Barrett hold a press conference reacting to the Final Draft Report of the Joint Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services.
The final recommendations include refunds for householders who paid their charges, the funding of domestic water services through general taxation, and the installation of meters at apartment blocks.
….these recommendations have resulted in a bitter political row between Fine Gael which is opposed to them, and Fianna Fáil, Sinn Fein and Solidarity, who support them.
— Catherine Murphy (@CathMurphyTD) April 6, 2017