Knowing The Price of Everything


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Health Minister Leo Varadkar appeared on Tonight With Vincent Browne last night, along with Sinn Féin senator David Cullinane; Fianna Fáil TD, Sean Fleming; and People Before Profit Councillor at Dublin City Council, Brid Smith.

Mr Varadkar was asked what people should do, if they can’t afford to pay their water charges.

David Cullinane:If I can ask you an honest question, Leo?”

Vincent Browne: “Make it quick because we’ve gotta go to a break.”

Cullinane: “There are many families out there who can’t afford to pay their mortgage, can’t put food on the table, can’t put oil in their heating tanks. When they get their water charges bill in January and they can’t afford to pay it, what bills should they not pay? Should they not pay their mortgage? Should they not put food on the table? If they genuinely can’t pay, if they don’t have it, what should they do? What advice would you give them?”

Leo Varadkar: “Well that’s a very po-faced question because if you look at…”

Cullinane: “It isn’t, it’s a question…”

Talk over each other

Browne: “We’ve got to go to a break…”

Varadkar: “I’ll tell you why it is because if you look at your alternative budget, for example, you propose a standard rate…”

Browne: “Answer his question. Answer his question. Answer his question. What should people do? When people who are living on the margins have a choice of paying a water tax or paying for a essential necessities in their families, of their families. Which choice should they do…”

Varadkar: “What they should do is…”

Brid Smith: “Don’t pay the water taxes.”

Varadkar: “What they should do is enter into an agreement with the utility which is what they would do currently with the ESB, it’s what they would do currently with the…”

Smith: “Leo you live on another planet, people simply don’t have it.”

Watch back here

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48 thoughts on “Knowing The Price of Everything

      1. Am I Still on this Island?

        Varadker’s a creep. That time he suggested we pay Polish people ‘to go back home.’ What a turd.

          1. Ploika

            Last week I overheard a Polish person say that most Polish people still have to pay tax in Poland if they live and work abroad.

            Can anyone clarify that? I may have misheard him, or he may have been wrong.

  1. Dan

    He’s right, they should enter into an agreement. What should he say? They shouldn’t pay? They would be prosecuted under the Water Services Bill 2013. He is still a member of cabinet, he can’t effectively ask people to break the law.

    It is a stupid question, that appeals to stupid people. The electorate should be more pissed off at being patronised by David Cullinane than Varadkar’s response. If the opposition but as much work into formulating plausible policy as they put into rabble rousing, taking digs and misleading the electorate, we might actually have a functioning democracy.

    1. ahjayzis

      Yes, that’s what will deliver us a functioning democracy – when the opposition get their act together.

      Meanwhile the lack of government accountability, transparency, democracy, ethics, qualifications, experience and an in any way functioning parliament is just fine and dandy.

      1. Dan

        A non functioning parliament is as much a problem with opposition as it is with the incumbent Government.

        I agree with you on accountability and transparency. These are issues that have not been addressed by any government in the last 20 years, this is a failure of policy. I don’t know what you mean by government democracy, more internal voting? Ethics is subjective, we vote them in.

        If people didn’t deride and hate politicians and public servants so much maybe more qualified people would enter the professions, although if you want a more educated class of TD, the state will have to pay more. Would you support that? What do you mean by experience? Our last two health ministers have been doctors. It’s not very encouraging when the electorate sort of rage vote in the likes of Mick Wallace, a failed property developer ffs, who then teams up with ex-socialist Clare Daly!

        Some people might argue that a society gets the representatives it deserves…

        I did say ‘might’.

        1. ahjayzis

          It’s nothing to do with the opposition – the problem is the parliament is the government’s plaything. Now that’s true of all successive governments if that’s what you mean.

          By democracy I mean it’s top down, all the time. All the more so in this government with the EMC – who’ll concoct our budget in secret, reveal it shortly before budget day to the cabinet, who in turn keep it from public discussion til all’s said and done. It’s referendums on things like the voting age and the presidential term duration when there’s no discussion of banning transferring public money to private companies and existential things like that. Not reforming the Seanad even though no one thinks the vote to not abolish it was an endorsement of the status quo. The three line whip on everything. It’s just such an ugly, immature, over-centralised way to do things.

          As for derision, you can;t demand the people love the politicians so we get better ones – we need better ones before the people respect them. I don’t believe we have to pay them much more, no. Maybe at executive level, but three times the industrial wage for a backbencher is fair to me. ‘Better’ people doesn’t have to mean ‘rich’ people, or necessarily businessmen. Just a few less teachers and lawyers, please. Besides, the pension we offer is wildly generous as it is.

          As for your last point, you’re bang on – it’s very idealistic to have much faith in the Irish electorate! But the worm may be turning, you never know.

    2. Clampers Outside!

      “he can’t effectively ask people to break the law”

      What fupping planet are yo on? He can if he believes that’s the right thing to do, he doesn’t so he didn’t. It’s not that he can’t. A democracy changes, and our politicians can advocate changes to the laws they see as wrong.

      As for this bit… “If the opposition put as much work into formulating plausible policy” …you mean like the complete dogs dinner they made of IW…. get a grip, stop spouting what appears to be a party line of defence.

      By the way, I believe we should pay!

      I don’t believe we should pay into the “[im]plausible policy” fiasco that you are appear to think is plausible. Which is daft when the govt themselves have come out and said the whole thing is a completely mangled-cock-fisted mess!

      1. Dan

        He can’t ask people to break the law, imagine the trouble that would cause for the government and cabinet. He’s not a complete fool.

        I never defended the formation or execution of Irish Water policy, so I have absolutely no Idea what you’re talking about there. I agree it is a complete mess.

        An Clampers, I’m not spouting part line, I’m not a member of any party. It’s just what I think.

  2. Nell496

    Shinner using the word ‘honest’ just doesn’t sound right to me. Same panelist, when asked by Vincent if he believed Gerry Adams was never in IRA said yes, he believed whatever Gerry says. Cult mentality alive and well in Sinn Fein.

    1. jungleman

      I don’t think it’s so much a cult mentality as it is a case of “hear no evil, see no evil”..

  3. Padi

    The vast majority of people do have the money and will pay it, it might mean a couple of less meals out or nights in the pub. Less discretionary spending. Those who genuinely don’t have it will likely have an exemption or something the usual middle class will pay up.

    1. All the good ones fly south for winter

      On those rare nights that we do get to visit the restaurant remember to fill up your handbags with their water before leaving.

  4. ex pat

    Cullinane’s position is knackered the moment he mentioned mortgage; anyone in mortgage arrears and in difficulty had the right to go to independent financial advisor and discuss their position with the bank; outlining

    1. Income
    2. Living Costs
    3. Mortgage

    Everyone knew water charges were coming and the only surprise has been that their has been a tax credit to assist with them and that there were further tax breaks in the 2015 budget versus tax rises.

    Golden rules in running a house are in order

    1. You buy food
    2. You pay utility costs
    3. You pay rent/mortgage

    Three things have people under pressure in Ireland,

    1. Legacy mortgages
    2. Commuting costs
    3. Childcare costs

    A €300 a year charge does not help but for the people Cullinane describes they have bigger issues thanks to the decisions they were encouraged to make between 2003-2007.

      1. ex pat

        We don’t know what the figures will be until they start metering but my guess is that they have a revenue target of €500m and if that €500m turns out to be say €900m it will be politically toxic so in typical Irish fashion the rate will be slashed as the outcome of €500m was the objective.

        I look at water charges like property tax, consumption may well rise just like house prices did and you can be damn sure come 2016 that the multiplier of value will be slashed from 0.18 to 0.12 to ensure that increases are held down.

        For the reason above I think your concerns on privatisation are fully grounded; if the assumption was €500m annual income and it turned out to be €900m the private entity would certainly not reverse the income target.

        In better news today AIB has cut variable mortgage rates which should help those on a typical commuter mortgage by about €300 a year.

  5. YourNan

    manage like everyone else? use less water? upskill? make do with less? hate this populist garbage.

    1. Timbot

      @yournan I can understand your hatred. You fundamentally don’t understand the problem. dont sweat it but take the time to educate yourself before you embarrass yourself again eh?

  6. offMooof

    Is this the narrative now lads?
    ‘ If those damn others don’t give up smoking and manage their money the middle class will have to pay.’
    I don’t think it will work, the middle class aren’t too happy either and includes those public secotr workers you’ve just gone to war with again.
    Bye bye Blueshirts

    1. ex pat

      I don’t get public sector attacking this; if the country suffers another recession then the public sector will be first in the firing line for additional pay cuts. If the government has a wide and durable tax base spread right across areas like income, capital, property, excise and corporate and if unique freebies likes a €500m water give away don’t exist then there is a lot more chance that spending cuts and tax rises can be avoided.

      Had Ireland gone down the Sinn Fein path in 2010 and not addressed the €20bn deficit and had the country gone proper bust by say 2012 what do you think would have happened to public sector pay, tax credits, spending, investment in classrooms etc etc?

      1. anomanomanom

        Nobody takes Sinn Fein seriously. When in opposition you can say anything you like. Because you never have to follow it up with actual work.

        1. Rob_G

          A case in point: SF support water charges in Northern Ireland (where they do share power, and do occasionally have to make difficult or unpalatable decisions).

          1. Domestos

            Left wing parties should support water tax, as a tax and spend policy. They should be arguing about how the tax is charged.

      2. offMooof

        A wide and durable tax base means that if by some lunacy the government doesn’t fall and we don’t get the political reform we deserve then a water charge represents a tax which won’t go down with the economy, nice and durable.
        Nobody is listening to SF the death song of party politics is too loud.

          1. offMooof

            In 2007 the top rate of tax was cut and the lower rate widened, unless you use another interpretion of widened?

          2. ex pat

            I think Domestos was being sarcastic or simply outlining the ability of the public mood to always feel there is further scope to loosen beyond what exists.

            No economy reaches the durability of the nordics without hard choices; when you look at what is missing in Ireland it is quite a long list.

            1. Universal healthcare
            2. Abundant affordable accommodation
            3. Decent public transport

            Instead we have a shamelessly populist political cabal organising a rally this weekend trying to convince people our great grand children want their ability to govern squandered now.

          3. offMooof

            The nordic countries were ruthless in rooting out corruption and vested interests, which is what these populist protests are about. Political reform ya know that republic they tell us we had? We’d like that at some stage otherwise the centenary will be a humiliation.

          4. offMooof

            ‘ability to govern squandered now.’
            our democracy has been taken outside and shot the type of governance our children can expect is the question.

          5. Domestos

            @offMooof, I would count the intro of water and property taxes as widening the tax base, which obviously lessens the importance of transactional taxes like income and stamp, the collapse of which lead to our fiscal crisis, which was as damaging as our banking crisis. The taxes are a step in the right direction as they stabilise the economy due to their nature (as you’ve pointed out), but of course they are not popular, with opinion once again hoping to lead us down the path of boom and bust.

  7. isintheair

    @ jungleman
    I think Simon Coveney will be the next FG leader. Coveney is the kind of politician that politicians like. He does exactly what it says on the tin.

    1. jungleman

      I didn’t say I thought he’d be the next leader but I do think he will be leader at some point. I’d say he has designs on it anyway. Coveney would certainly be a contender..

  8. Soundings

    If water charges are ever to gain widespread acceptance, there will have to be an ability to pay or at least defer.

    But the Sinn Fein position is laughable, on the other part of the island today, SF agreed £900m of cuts to the North’s budget – on a pro-rata scale, that’s equivalent to £2.3bn (€3bn) cut here. thousands, possibly 10-20,000 public servants will lose their jobs, hospital beds will be cut (maybe Peadar Toibin can stop his protest at Navan and have a word with his colleagues), policing will be cut, there may well be welfare cuts.

    Once the SFers drive over the invisible border though, their position changes, to oppose any cut to services or welfare. Yep, Leo was a bell-end last night, but David belongs to a party that displays hypocrisy in its positions north and south.

    1. Ppads

      Policing should be cut in NI by a hell of a lot more than today. 4 to 1 ratio of police per head between North and South Ireland means you could take a chain saw to that budget without it affecting real policing services. But yes,the obscene property tax (rates) up North mainly funds council clowns waving flags at each other so SF remain silent. Odd that!

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