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Eddie Hobbs

Water, oil, shale.

They should be ours.

Eddie Hobbs writes:

Unlike many European countries, Ireland took explicit ownership of natural resources in its Constitution. While the Constitution recites its role in acting in the common good, the State reinforced its hegemony by ensuring that these principles of law, including the alienation of the people from their natural resource endowment, cannot be actionable through the courts under Article 45, which leaves the people marooned by the State when, acting as trustee, it fails in its duty of care.

Had this flaw not been engineered, today’s water protesters could be fighting through the courts and not in the streets for what the UN General Assembly in 2010 declared to be a human right: “The right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.

Ireland abstained from the vote on the UN declaration.

We could also be holding our Government to account for its reckless policy in handing ownership of large tracts of offshore territory to private oil and gas explorers. We are told our water will not be privatised. You can be sure that’s true. For the time being, no sane private company would want to take it on. But the State, trading at the extreme edges of debt servicing, will sell the family silver to preserve itself first and look after anything else second .

There is only one way to protect the Irish people from the incompetence, callowness, and self-preservation that is second nature to our political leaders and that is to amend the Constitution, not just for water but for all our natural resources. This means overturning Article 10, placing unfettered ownership with the people and trusteeship with the State, reducing it to acting as a fiduciary, not as the owner. The State’s behaviour in such a role could then be actionable through the courts.

Amending the Constitution at any level ought to be done carefully, consulting widely and involving constitutional lawyers to properly address requirements for balance on the question of sustainability for future generations, to allow for temporary leasing to private interests while retaining ownership, and to impose a responsibility to use the resource efficiently.

But the State will not accept diminishing its grip lightly — not without challenge. That challenge has manifestly arrived with the water protests. What is required now is a redirection of the debate towards revisiting the 1937 Constitution, recognising that the fundamental issue here is not about pricing water for the next few years but about the imbalance of power as between the people and the State on the question of Irish natural resources. That means digging under the foundations of State power. That is where we are compelled to excavate, recognising that Irish natural resources could, in a few decades, become the defining intersection in our relationship with the outside world, especially with the EU to whom we have already given up so much.

Eddie Hobbs: Constitutional betrayal of our right to water (irish Examiner)

(Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)

Yesterday: Well This Is Awkward

27 thoughts on “Eddie’s Rocket

    1. Anonanoanom

      while your correct on that, i do remember watching him on tv warning that it could go arse up. And just like when Mc Williams warned about it no one listened

  1. edalicious

    While it would be amazing to start things moving in this direction, I find it hard to believe that you would be able to get people motivated to protest in as much force as they are now for something as abstract as this.

    1. ahjayzis

      Unless they find some oil. Then I reckon there’d be a commotion.

      And this being Ireland it’ll be too late by then and they’ll have sold the rights to BP for some shiny beads to give to Angie Merkel on her birthday.

      1. Anonanoanom

        We do have oil and gas. Actually the sea bed in our waters has shown exceptional promise for, excuse the pun, barrel loads of oil. And we have already sold the rights. Our great dear entities us to just tax them on what is found, Oh that’s after the company claims tax exemption on the drilling cost of wells that find no oil. Sure we’re a great little country

    2. Disasta

      Ye it would all right but as you can see comments are more interested in berating someone than backing up a valid point.

  2. ivan

    I appreciate I’m veering towards something akin to ‘whataboutery’ here, but did Eddie Hobbs give half a f**k about the loss of our resources (say Corrib Gas) when the good times were going, or is this just a new thing since we hit rock bottom?

  3. serf

    Where did the idea that, in the 21st century, clean water is a “natural resource” come from? Drinking water and sewerage treatment involves massive investment and cost, not to mention piping it around the country without leaks…

  4. JimmytheHead

    Well done Eddie, if constitutional reform is a bandwagon to be jumped upon then i guess thats a good sign. I met Ben Gilroy last year and he said the exact same thing to me – doesnt matter whos in charge, the constitution needs to be reformed. Put anyone behind the wheel of a broken vehicle and they’ll do damage regardless of their alliances to private interests or political gain.

    in before “ooh Jimmy loves the freemen”

  5. Mayor Quimby

    this clown will do anything for publicity – he was making out that we could solve all our problems with the massive amounts of oil off our coast.

    Except there’s virtually feck all and no Major can be bothered drilling

  6. Joseph Kavanagh

    Regardless of what personal views are held about E Hobbs, he has hit the nail on the head here. Whilst I fully agree that ALL our natural resources should be the ownership of the people and not the state, so too should the utility infrastructure, i.e. Road Network, communication Network, Rail Network etc. I say this not so that the government of the day would run such services, but so that they would lease them to competent companies, whose failure to deliver equal and efficient service could result in the withdrawal of contract.

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