Well This Is Awkward



In fairness.

Further to Kathy Sinnott’s column in the Irish Times asserting that, under an EU ruling, Ireland is exempt from water charging.

Jim Faulkner writes:

Just off phone to Irish Water after telling them under article 9.4 of EU water directive in 2000 Ireland secured an exemption of paying for domestic water, so I told them under EU law I dont have to pay for my water, they said this is the first they heard of this! They put me on hold and came back and said the Irish govt had changed the law! I said the Irish govt cant change EU law so I am exempt…I also said to change that exemption in Ireland would require a referendum……they said they will ring me back…

More as he gets it.

Jim Faulkner (Facebook)

Meanwhile: TD finds footnote that ‘exempts Irish Water from new appointment rules’ (BreakingNews.ie)

Thanks Patrick

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99 thoughts on “Well This Is Awkward

    1. Neilo

      If I might be so bold, I’m sure Mr Mr would ask you to take these broken wings and learn to fly again.

  1. karlj

    Ireland secured an exemption from implementing a EU directive.
    Ireland changed it’s mind and created Water Services Act 2013.

    1. droid

      Yes, but we’ve been told repeatedly that we must introduce metering because the ‘EU says so’. The exemption still stands, FG/Lab just decided not to use it.

          1. jungleman

            Just because we obtained an exemption does not prohibit the government from introducing such a measure.

            Secondly, the exemption only applies where the objectives of the Directive are not affected by same, thus the exemption surely does not apply to Ireland.

          2. droid

            Ididnt say it did, I said that one we are being TOLD that metering must be implemented because its part of EU law.

            The fact is, we have an exemption and are choosing not to use it.

            Therefore this is the choice of the government and is not dictated by the EU and is not a fait accompli.

          3. jungleman

            OK so what was the alternative? Clearly they’re just playing politics with the recent concessions. The meters will be used eventually. We could of course be exempt if we had an alternative that achieved the objectives. This is not the case however. Metering is the best and fairest option as people will pay for what they use.

            I accept that the gov have made a total balls of this. But I still believe water should be paid for and metering is the best option.

            Also, I may have unfairly thrown you in with the fool who brought up Article 9.4 when you were a little bit more specific in your argument at least. But surely you shouldn’t be hitching your wagon to people like Jim who are just spouting nonsense.

          4. jungleman

            Jim has demonstrated a total misunderstanding and ignorance of Art. 9.4 and law generally. As one person says, it’s freeman stuff.

          5. CousinJack

            Most households in the UK don’t have water meters and their private water utilties get on with it, what diffrent in Ireland?
            The water meters are a titbit for the FG paymaster and a way of extracting more tax revenues from families in the middle (the group most punished and least responsible for the recession)

          6. Heyhey

            JungleMan. You need to remember were paying for water already through tax’s and that money isn’t even being used to maintain the water works as it is, just like the car tax for roads. JungeMan just to add if one is living homeless next to a stream river lake what ever it might be, if its being cleaned poluted or not is not the question, do you still think it should be paid for, after all water is a needed substance and should never be paid for even though we are through tax once again. If living in the States, Aussie or even the likes of Africa were water wouldnt be as much due to the difference in climate change of warmer hotter weather then thats another matter probably then we wouldnt argue. The corrupton is immense in this country and the way there trying to corrupt us more is outstanding knowing people aint goin to stand for it anymore and there still doing it to us. Your there backing them up it wouldnt put it a passed me if your FF/FG member. Defending “the kenny” team isn’t a good idea, even you yourself will be let down by the Government and then you’l be wondering why didn’t i listen and support the people out there when needed.. So i ask for you to get ff your high horse and help turn this country into success instead of defending kenny corrupt clan….

  2. Bodger

    Maybe I’m wrong but if we don’t have to pay for this water then the government will find some other way of taxing us. Probably through income tax. Which is unfair as those of us that work will foot the bill, not the unemployed. At least with the water charge all of us are culpable.

    1. droid

      Everyone pays tax. We have one of the highest burdens of indirect taxation in the OECD. Even those on social welfare pay VAT, and as they spend much more of the income, they can effectively end up paying 23% in tax.

        1. Zynks

          Not really. Big overheads and related VAT rate: Gas and electricity (13.5% and they may get allowances towards these costs), food (mostly zero rated). The one’s on social welfare who smoke and drink may pay a higher percentage, but for basic needs, the net tax pay is much lower than 23%.

          1. Jimmee


            Food, rent, medical expenses, education, kids clothing, basic utilities are all subject to zero or the lower 13.5% VAT.

            Contrary to popular belief, VAT isn’t regressive.

          2. droid

            VAT IS regressive because it is flat tax based on income, and those on lowest incomes spend a much higher % of that income.

          3. droid

            Yes, I said ‘can’. Many services are charged at the higher rate, even a 13.5% rate is still higher than many high earners pay in income tax.

          4. droid

            Really Karl? Absolute nonsense?

            “519 earned between 1m to 2m in 2010. They paid 180m in taxes on income of 677m. That works out at about 26 per cent of their collective earnings, which is roughly the same percentage they paid in 2010.”

            I guarantee that there are people in that cohort or above paying less than 13.5% through various tax avoidance schemes. Obv, not as bad as it was 5-10 years ago when super high earners were paying less than 5% in some cases.


          5. Karl Monaghan

            All you’ve done there is show that the absolute top earners paid nearly double the 13.5% vat rate. The vast majority of high earners pay well in excess of that. There are over 2 million people working in the country, a bare fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent you mention above.

            So again, absolute nonsense that high earners pay less than 13.5%.

          6. droid

            Karl, I said that ‘many’ high earners pay less than 13.5%. Youre response was ‘but but the high rate of tax kicks in at 32,000.’

            If the 52% at 32,000 is so pervasive, how come 519 people earning between 1-2m pay an average of 26%?

            And again that is an average. There are high earners amongst that number in this country who pay less than 13.5% tax and there are high earners above that number who pay less. How much tax does Dermot Desmond, Dennis O’Brien, Martin Naughton, John Dorrance and their ilk pay?

          7. droid

            Wow, fascinating stuff there Karl, people who earn huge amounts of money pay a high proportion of income tax. You gonna tell us where bears shit next?

            If the higher income tax band is supposed to kick in at 32,000, then how did 519 millionaires pay an average of 26% tax?

          8. Rep

            Not sure about the other two but neither Dermot Desmond nor Dennis O’Brien are residents of Ireland so they pay non personally. I’d imagine the other don’t either though I guess that was your point. Regardless of that, I would imagine that the vast vast majority of high earners pay an awful lot in income tax. If you are reduced to bringing up the likes of DOB or DD, your argument isn’t very strong.

          9. droid

            The point is that once you’re out of the PAYE system, all bets are off, and how much tax you pay is based on how good your tax accountant is.

            And again ‘many’ high earners. Not all, not the majority, I said ‘many’ .

          10. Karl Monaghan

            Do you consider 519 people to be ‘many’ (when as I pointed out above there are 2 million in the tax net)?

            I won’t dispute that there are some extreme high earners that pay less than their fair share but to say “many” high earners pay less than 13.5% is still ludicrous. A tiny, tiny, tiny, hand full might pay less than 13.5%.

            As for how they’re paying 26%, putting the max allowed into their pensions has a big effect (e.g. someone on 2 million aged 55 putting in the max pension amount of 35% of income straight away brings their effective tax rate down to 37%) straight off.

          11. droid

            Depends on if you define ‘many’ in absolute or relative terms Karl, also a bit like how you define ‘absolute’ in terms of nonsense. ;)

            And again, 37% is 11% higher than the average of 26%. Clearly those 519 are up to something.

          12. Zynks

            Droid, I think what you might be looking for is a wealth tax. You are referring to ex-PAYE people who are in most cases people who own businesses and have the option of holding their earnings inside the company and so avoiding income tax.

            If you want to tax them, the best route may be a wealth tax such as what you find in Sweden, with 1.5% of wealth at the end of the year paid to the taxman.

            You will probably need the socialists in power before something like this takes in Ireland.

          13. Anne

            “Do you consider 519 people to be ‘many’ (when as I pointed out above there are 2 million in the tax net)?”

            IMO, it would depend on the amounts really, rather than the numbers.

        2. droid

          @zynks. Im in favour of a wealth tax. I think the SF proposals are reasonable, but forget about that for a moment.

          In 2004, Joan Burton claimed that 8.4 billion was lost annually due to 28 legal tax loopholes. Even if we accept the fact that the amount of wealth have reduced, that a small amount of these loopholes have been closed and that some of these loopholes may be legitimate or justifiable, that still undoubtable leaves billions of lost revenue for the state before you even begin to introduce higher rates, extra tax bands or one off wealth taxes


          And with regard to high earning tax avoidance. its worth remembering that this is something that has been going on for decades. That there is an established culture of tax avoidance and evasion amongst high earners in ireland. In 2001 242 people earning between 100,000 and 1 million paid no tax at all. Here’s Burton again calling for a ‘minimum effective tax rate’:http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/millionaires-tax-avoidance-revealed-172397.html

          Prior to that in the 80’s and 90’s we had Ansbacher and DIRT and a host of other legal avoidance methods… i think Fintan O’Toole suggested that up to 26% of total tax revenue may have been lost at the height of high earning tax avoidance.

          These are issues that have never been tackled, that lose the state billions every year, and, I suggest, given the history, given the tax situation with multinationals, given the ideology of the current govt, that its incredibly naive to suggest that they will be tackled, and that, indeed that this isnt still going on today.

          1. Anne

            “I’ll also point out that if that 180m held true for this year, it would represent 1% of the total income tax take ”

            180m was the figure of tax paid by a certain bracket of high earners.
            The issue is the percent of their income on tax that they’re paying, so saying that it represents 1% of the total income tax take, doesn’t refute the point that they’re not paying a high amount of tax.

            Just sayin’ Karl.

      1. Pedro

        Even those on Social Welfare pay VAT….. And who pays for the Social Welfare in first place? Essentially they are pay VAT with money already acquired through tax.

    2. gertrude

      yeah it’s called progressive taxation, water tax should come out of income tax, whereby those who can pay do.

      irish water fixed charges etc are as regressive as vat, hitting the poor the hardest.

    3. Clampers Outside!

      I want a water charge, if any, for the water …maintenance, upkeep, conservation and all that.

      Throwing taxes into a trough of taxes is how Ireland operates presently and this water charge should be the start of the end of that nonsense.

      I asked all my TDs to answer the following questions with a Yes / No answer (or a don’t know): Joan Collins was the only one to answer me. She said ‘Yes’ to 1 to 4 and left 5 blank… which is fair enough, to a point.

      I need to know….

      1 – That you will be for the protection of Irish Water from privatisation by enshrining that protection into the constitution – Y / N
      (NOTE: The current situation where IW is purportedly “protected” under legislation is not sufficient protection and is not acceptable)

      2 – That you will get behind Irish Water as a non-profit organisation and that any surplus profits will be used solely for the purpose of upgrading and maintaining of the Irish Water system and the conservation of Irish Water and nothing else – Y / N

      3 – That you will ensure that the government works in a wholly transparent manner in all dealings with Irish Water, its’ contractors and all other dealings it conducts with third parties – Y / N

      4 – That the salaries (and bonuses, if any) of all employees from the very top to the bottom will be rigorously revised – Y / N

      5 – That the government will monitor any price increases in water charges to ensure that at most they stay in line with inflation – Y / N

      1. Atticus

        Profits? Do you really think there’ll be profits?

        It’s being taken off the balance sheet so they can borrow shed loads of money to do the essential upgrades and maintenance. They would have to increase the yearly fee to customers to a huge amount before they start to see a profit.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          It’s called safe guarding the future :)

          And it can remain off the balance sheet.
          It will eventually make a profit, and it’s not that far down the line before it does. From 10 yrs to less than two decades.
          Particularly when you are looking at a ‘utility’ which will in the near future have a practically guaranteed income once established (which makes it easier for it to borrow, than an ordinary business).

        1. Sidewinder

          I don’t see how that would help tbh. Unless you find a method of progressive taxation for each particular public service. Like do you pay your bills for the running of the dail when you vote at the polling station?

          1. Clampers Outside!

            If in 1997 the increases in car tax and whatever else that were made in order to pay for Irish Water were actually stand alone taxes, and named as such, ‘water rates’ or ‘charges’ or whatever… then none of what we are going through now, would be happening… we may be looking at increases, but it wouldn’t be the mess we’re in now.

            Of that, I am absolutely certain. I’d bet my life on it.

  3. karlypants

    It’s not law, its a voluntary exemption that our dear leaders have chosen to ignore (which is just as bad, if not worse…).

    As for a referendum, it’s not in the constitution. Sounds like more Freeman misinfo shite to me.

      1. Sidewinder

        Hardly a shock from Ms. Sinnott.

        Piece of advise NEVER take anything she says at face value. Always do VERY RIGOROUS research.

  4. BoredNow

    This is all getting boring. This money is gonna have to be recouped somehow, and at least this way everyone gets hit. If this was to crash then income tax would potentially increase

      1. serf

        Only smugness I can see is Paul Murphy, Joe Higgins and a few others, as they ride the bungled IW launch for all its worth. You seem a big fan of rights without responsibilities. As for the rest of it, the Irish income tax system is already the 2nd most progressive out of the 33 OECD countries, we have the 2nd highest minimum wage in the EU and are the only country in Europe without water charges. There are limits to how much more burden tax payers can shoulder.

        1. Original Cynic

          So we are now expected to trust the SAME bungling idiots in Irish Water with €Billions of borrowed money (taxpayers make the repayments)? Fool me once ……….. shame on me!

        2. Medium Sized C

          It seems anyone who disagrees with anything anyone else says is called Smug.

          Or a member of some party.

          Or a Nazi/Communist.

          Or some other stupid shit that only makes the accuser stupid by saying it.

        3. nellyb

          “You seem a big fan of rights without responsibilities” – no, that’s the political class. Budget handling is appalling, public keep compensating retarded governance with forking out tidy sums to various charities, that should have not existed at all if money weren’t diverted into selected individual pockets.
          I am Ok with intelligent water metering on a condition that proceeds are invested back into water network. But I know and you know and everybody knows that government can’t be trusted to do their job. They seem totally lacking management skills, long term vision for the COUNTRY – just plain “fumble in a greasy till”
          Therefore I am against water charges until MEANINGFUL tax reform and expenditure transparency is in place. See you on the 10th. Good reason to take annual leave and show solidarity with fellow citizens.

        1. Neilo

          And I’m Mr Big Idiot for misspelling – sorry Ben! All kidding aside, there’s a decidedly uneasy feeling out there

      2. Sidewinder

        What in the name of sanity is the point of taxing people on government benefits?

        “Here’s €100 now you give me €12 back.” – it’s madness. If you want to use tax incentives (or disincentives) on items like cigarettes, alcohol or fossil fuels then put a levy on the bad ones and a grant on the good ones and nothing on everything else.

    1. Freia

      It is not going to HAVE TO be recouped some way. We simply stop paying the makey-uppy debt. It wasn’t ours in the first place. Millionaires and billionaires gambled on the market, the market crashed, tough titties. We don’t just say, ah sorry lads, here have your billions in profits back anyway, we’ll just sit here hungry and in the dark for decades. Cop on you gullible fool.

        1. Freia

          Time to stop the insanity of honouring a decision made by a man with brain cancer, in the middle of the night, with no mandate. That’s what it’s time for.

      1. bruce01

        We did say that, and assumed the private debt as that of the country. So yes, we do have to recoup that money. Also we have huge levels of general (govt) debt which needs to be reduced. It is somewhat naive to still be trotting out the ‘not our debt/fatcats gambled let them take the loss’ line.

    2. ahjayzis

      Totally. Those on high incomes, those on middle-incomes and those on no-incomes should be treated exactly the same and pay exactly the same euro amount because of moral hazard or a user-pays principle or some other less ugly way of stating your wish to opt out of a fair society because moral hazard or ‘freedom’ or some other ugly shit.

      I assume you’d also like all taxes on income used for health and education services abolished to be replaced with mandatory health insurance for everyone, and a flat user-charge for parents of school children no matter how unaffordable it is. Cull the herd, like.

      1. Sidewinder

        Damn straight. I make eff all money at the moment but it’s better than nothing and the government just lowered my USC. I’d happily pay that USC and another 2% income tax if it meant fewer homeless people.

    3. Ruth

      So we should all just lie down and take it up the proverbial …. You don’t care for your money that’s fine, but i don’t just give mine away cos bonuses need to be paid in some Denis Obrien company who doesn’t even pay tax in the country. Just give your money away cos there gonna take it anyway. You have no fight

  5. Cian

    You got off the phone from an outsourced call centre who exist to take names and formerly PPS numbers, of course they’re not going to be able up explain your vast misunderstanding of that directive to you.

    1. Rep

      Indeed. I am shocked that some bored 20 year old working for some outsource company on minimum wage doesn’t know article 9.4 of the EU water directive. I’d hazard a guess that neither Kathy nor Jim really know too much about it either.

      1. Original Cynic

        €180M spent on setting up and Consultants costs – how dare we expect questions to be answered correctly!

        1. Cian

          I’d be fairly certain the legal department could answer it – but that wouldn’t have given Jim any satisfaction, as they’d have explained reality to him pretty quickly.

          Much better to assume someone who’s there to fill in forms for people who can’t use the internet can answer it…

  6. Bozo

    I’m just waiting to see what the reaction by the powers that be is on the 10th. Should be interesting when a big crowd like that tells the Gov to shove it.

  7. 15 cents

    what i dont get is .. the government announced that they were ahead of repayments for the bailout or whatever, and then like the next week said they were bringing in water charges. .. when it seemed they didnt need to?

    1. John

      They’re still borrowing money hand over fist to keep the country going, albeit at a decreaing amount every year. We’re still borrowing though and that money will have to be paid back so the sooner we stop borrowing for day to day expenses the sooner we can start increasing services. We should be restructuring the entire public sector to try and make it work but there is zero political will to tackle that as the backlash from the public unions would be fierce.

      If we did do something radical like not pay back our debt then a sharp shock to the public finances could be what is required to get everything moving again. It kinda worked for Iceland.
      Unfortunately in the short term there would be a lot of teachers, doctors, nurses, gards and public servents who would be cut.

      No easy solutions.

  8. Rugbyfan

    Scene: kitchen, 6.30, over dinner:

    Partner of Irish Water Employee: How was your day love?

    Irish Water Employee: was going grand until some numnut came on spouting euopean law at me…oh sh!t I never called him back..

    1. Rep

      Yeah and everyone once would have agreed with you but then she came out as anti-water so she a-ok now. We can forget about her anti-flouride, anti–vaccine, anti-choice, etc, she is not anti-water charges, the one thing it is cool with being anti.

  9. downwiththissortofthing

    so yous believe the worlds water should be controlled through capital. very foolish. Why would people put something so important and necessary to existance into the hands of incapable entities. Have we not learned that our welfare is not the priority with the hierarchial after the bank bailout ? Greed has effected everything else from start to finish and the setting up of irish water already shows they cant resist scamming and theiving tax money. Those on social welfare and in the workforce suffer the financial stress everyday and i do not think people should be pitt against each other on who should suffer more. Someone who lost / failed to gain employment did not condemm us all the ill fitting greedy politicians did and the more we sacrifice the more they will take. Not paying for water whether its the law or not and its all the other people with that mentality that bring every closer to change.

  10. E

    Just for information purposes, the referenced article :

    “Article 9

    Recovery of costs for water services

    1. Member States shall take account of the principle of recovery of the costs of water services, including environmental and resource costs, having regard to the economic analysis conducted according to Annex III, and in accordance in particular with the polluter pays principle.

    Member States shall ensure by 2010

    – that water-pricing policies provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently, and thereby contribute to the environmental objectives of this Directive,

    – an adequate contribution of the different water uses, disaggregated into at least industry, households and agriculture, to the recovery of the costs of water services, based on the economic analysis conducted according to Annex III and taking account of the polluter pays principle.

    Member States may in so doing have regard to the social, environmental and economic effects of the recovery as well as the geographic and climatic conditions of the region or regions affected.

    2. Member States shall report in the river basin management plans on the planned steps towards implementing paragraph 1 which will contribute to achieving the environmental objectives of this Directive and on the contribution made by the various water uses to the recovery of the costs of water services.

    3. Nothing in this Article shall prevent the funding of particular preventive or remedial measures in order to achieve the objectives of this Directive.

    4. Member States shall not be in breach of this Directive if they decide in accordance with established practices not to apply the provisions of paragraph 1, second sentence, and for that purpose the relevant provisions of paragraph 2, for a given water-use activity, where this does not compromise the purposes and the achievement of the objectives of this Directive. Member States shall report the reasons for not fully applying paragraph 1, second sentence, in the river basin management plans.”

  11. johnjohnjohn

    Congratulations. You bamboozled a disinterested, minimum wage call centre employee. Keep fighting the good fight.

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