Lifelong Learning



Campaign ‘literature’ for the No side in a recent water charges referendum
in Trinity College Dublin

Two weeks ago, a water charges referendum was held in Trinity College Dublin in order to give the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) an official position on the introduction of water charges.

The students were asked if they should campaign to abolish water charges.

Of the 4,619 who voted, 2,110 students (46%) voted ‘Yes’.

Further to this…

Liam Crowley writes in Trinity News:

“On the point of the referendum campaign, it must be pointed out that the ‘No’ side engaged in misleading and disingenuous tactics. The leaflets and posters issued by the ‘No’ campaign were designed along a myth/fact type of structure. It was presented as being a myth that ‘Irish water will be privatised’. The corresponding ‘fact’ was that ‘only the Irish people can decide to privatise Irish Water through a referendum.’ This is far removed from the truth.”

“The government has forcefully resisted all demands that the semi-state company ‘Irish Water’ be protected from privatisation by ensuring a referendum is provided in the case of any government wanting to sell the company. The Oireachtas, where a government majority is in-built, will be the place where any decision to privatise our water is taken.”

“Irish people could not have less control over our water than as it stands with the current formation of water charges. If privatisation of our water was not on the agenda, then a referendum would have been guaranteed in the event of possible water privatisation. The blatant untruth that currently a referendum is necessary for water privatisation should not have escaped college media scrutiny and the SU’s Electoral Commission should have acted decisively to stop the dissemination of false information.”


What does the result of the water charges referendum say about Trinity students? (Liam Crowley, Trinity News)

Pic: Trinity News

40 thoughts on “Lifelong Learning

  1. Mr. T.

    Young Fine Gael. They’re the clean cut students who attend lectures in suits and women who wear first lady two pieces, always ready to marry the right guy and host ‘sophisticated’ dinners.

    The only study business or legal or both. So they can then manipulate every other profession.

  2. ivan

    On the issue of leaks, am I right in saying that water meters can only really pinpoint leaks between meter and house?

    1. ReproBertie

      Assuming a meter further up the system then a simple check between water sent into an estate and water registered on meters outside houses should identify a leak before the house meters.

    2. Anne

      Don’t really have a bull’s notion, but I’d imagine a water meter can’t pinpoint anything.. other than indicate that there may be a leak due to high volumes of water being measured on the meter.

      1. ivan

        Aye, that’s what I meant. If you know that you’ve no taps on in your house and the meter shows water being consumed, then it’s fair enough to assume that something’s drawing water through your meter, and that’s probably a leak.

        If you’re in an estate of 40 houses, a leak in the pipe under the road won’t show up in a meter though, and even if there’s a ‘supermeter’ in the processing plant from which the water flows, you’d be hard pushed identify where the leak is, right?

        In short, this thing of meters identifying leaks doesn’t really hold much, er, water, does it? Surely the majority of leaks are on mains pipes, and not on ones going from meter to house…

        1. ReproBertie

          “In short, this thing of meters identifying leaks doesn’t really hold much, er, water, does it?”

          Except that reading a meter at the pumping station and comparing it to readings from the meters at houses will quickly highlight a difference caused by a leak in the mains.

          1. ivan

            OK – so let’s simplify it (and I’m not looking for a fight here – i’m quite happy to be swayed, just don’t understand the logic being employed…)

            Meter at the pumping station serving a catchment area of say, 1000 houses shows that 10000 litres have been drawn, so that’s 10 litres a house.

            Now, they aggregate the meters in the 1000 houses and they show that only 9500 have been drawn, so that certainly shows that 500 litres is unaccounted for – it left the pumping station and didn’t make it into anybodys kettle/toilet/bath.

            that suggests (but doesn’t guarantee, right?) that the 500 litres are being lost between pumping station and meters, doesn’t it?

            My question is – and maybe there are other meters along the way between pumphouse and domestic meter (you haven’t said either way) – how do they isolate where the leak(s) are?

    3. Kevin M

      Block metering and pressure tests make meters obsolete. Bord Gais didn’t need them, no one wants them yet FG/Labour pushed ahead with them. They will spend an estimated €750million burying meters. Who profits from that? 125,000 houses at €64million a time

  3. andyourpointiswhatexactly

    “Irish people could not have less control over our water than as it stands with the current formation of water charges. If privatisation of our water was not on the agenda, then a referendum would have been guaranteed in the event of possible water privatisation. The blatant untruth that currently a referendum is necessary for water privatisation…”.

    Writer not good is he. His studies should he concentrate more on.

  4. 15 cents

    “everyone else in europe is doing it” .. i hate that argument. why impose an unnecessary tax .. sorry .. ‘charge’.. just because every other country did it?

    1. Just sayin'

      If we we’re the only ones doing it you’d be moaning about an Irish solution to an Irish problem. No pleasing some sheeple.

  5. newsjustin

    “The students were asked if they should campaign to abolish water charges.

    Of the 4,619 who voted, 2,110 students (46%) voted ‘Yes’.”

    Or in another, more conventional way of putting it. 54% voted No. The Yes side lost.

    1. curmudgeon

      Yeah no shit, the point of this post is that they were given blatantly false propaganda that informed their decision. So is your problem poor reading comprehension or did you not bother to read the letter before you comment?

  6. phil

    When I was in the college in the 90’s what I and my peers believed was the private sector was where you needed to be for innovation and financial success. It was up to you to realise this success , we knew it was a bit of a casino but believed the harder you worked the better you would do.

    The view we had on the public sector, well that was for people who were dedicated to public service, or people who were not interested in the ups and downs of free market capitalism, you would never become rich, but you were guaranteed some sort of security with stable low wages and defined benifit pension.

    From talking to a few leaving cert students , friends of the son, what they are all lining themselves up for is jobs in the public sector, and they seem to know that they need to network and get involved in the big political parties to achieve this ….

    This makes me sad

    1. Just sayin'

      I’m curious, what public sector graduate entry jobs require you to “get involved in the big political parties”?

  7. Just sayin'

    I can always spot a losing argument when I see the word “Blueshirt” in it. Name-calling based on a misinterpretation of a dodgy movement from 80 years ago isn’t very sophisticated.

    Anyway, student politics – yawn!

  8. Kolmo

    Water supply was never free, just as there is no such thing as free healthcare – we all have been paying for it through substantial taxes, direct and indirect, for years.

    Young anto-social corporate wannabe asscrawlers.

  9. sqoid

    Meters are exactly how you identify and locate leaks. The water in your tap will pass through up to a dozen “super meters” from leaving the plant to getting to your toilet. If unusually high use (or constant steady use at the early morning hours) are identified the area is then searched for leaks.
    After you identify an area with a leak you can isolate it by shutting valves in a “step test” and examining the meter readings until you find the branch or street with the leak.
    Then the pipe fittings (meters, valves, hydrants) are “listened” to for the noise of water leaving the pipe. This si done with simple metal rods to identify the presence of a leak to the use of Noise Correlators to pin point how far from each fitting the leak is.

    Household meters will be extremely effective at locating leaks within private grounds and buildings, which up until now have been the only sections of the system not examined for leaks (excluding perhaps some rural areas, my experience is only in high density areas).
    Biggest saving is going to be through conservation though.

  10. Steve

    Best with sort of the things to look up the legislation referred to. Sorry for TL;DR

    Section 2 of the recently enacted Water Services Act 2014 includes the following:

    Paragraph (1) A Bill providing or allowing for the alienation of any share or shares in Irish Water to a person other than a Minister of the Government shall not be initiated by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government in either House of the Oireachtas unless— (a) a Resolution of each such House is passed approving a proposal to provide or allow for such alienation, (b) a proposal to provide or allow for such alienation is submitted by Plebiscite for the decision of the People, and (c) a majority of the votes cast in such Plebiscite shall have been cast in favour of the proposal.

    My reading: Privatising IW needs either both Houses of Oireachtas approval and/or majority support in a referendum. It cannot proceed otherwise.

    Paragraph (2) Whenever Resolutions are passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas in respect of the proposal referred to in subsection (1), the Minister may by order appoint the day upon which and during which the poll at the Plebiscite on the proposal shall be held.

    My reading: If option (a) occurs (i.e. both Houses of Oireachtas approve) then a Referendum on the matter MUST be held…the Minister for Environment sets the day of referendum.

    Paragraph (6) The Plebiscite shall (a) put a proposal for a decision of those persons entitled to vote in the Plebiscite as to whether the Government may, if it wishes to, cause the initiation of legislation as referred to in subsection (1), and (b) be held in accordance with regulations made by the Minister providing for the holding of the Plebiscite and for other requirements and arrangements that will apply in relation to the Plebiscite.

    My reading: The people must be directly asked whether then the Government to alienate the shares (privatise) IW. The Government of the day, may even ignore both Houses of Oireachtas voting for it, and still not try to enact legislation therefore causing referendum. I cant see how this might happen, but maybe AG’s office wanted to give Government of the day an out, if they got privatisation Bill through the Oireachtas but there was anarchy outside. They could just not follow through on Bill.

    That said the next Government could just repeal section 2 of the Water Services Act 2014. So my interpretation is that if Section 2 of the Water Services Act 2014 stays law then a referendum MUST be held. If its repealed – all bets are off. I dunno maybe Legal Coffee Drinker can prove me wrong.

    However no such legislative protection is provided to any sale of ESB. But water is needed for life so ESB is different to IW!!! Yes water is great for life – I agree. But electricity is also great for our quality of life, so surely that should get anti-privatisation legislation.. Yet nobody is out holding tricolours about ESB maybe / possibly / potentially being privatised.

  11. Cian

    IW will never be sold off as it stands.

    Take ESB as an example. ESB has two parts: ESB Networks – which own the lines from power stations to home. It there is a storm and it knocks down lines, they fix them. ESB Power Generation – they generate the electricity. ESB Networks will (should) never be privitized – it is the network. However the power generation could be sold off (and/or new providers can build power stations and sell electricity – e.g. Airtricity).

    Bord Gais is the same – delivery (pipes) Vs production (gas).

    IW would follow this model – It may be split into two parts: Water Networks; and Water treatment. The treatment part may be sold off, or private companies could build treatment plants and sell water (or sewage treatment) across IW pipes. Jut liek ESB. Just like Board Gais.

  12. D

    The meter installation, network maintenance, customer service, and billing functions are already outsourced to GMC/Sierra etc. and Abtran. It seems Irish Water is attempting to privatise as much of itself as possible.

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