‘The Movement Did Seem To Be Dying Down’


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Irish Water protesters outside the GPO in Dublin on June 20

John Downing, of the Irish Independent, spoke to Keelin Shanley as she sat in for Seán O’Rourke on RTE Radio One this morning.

The interview followed this morning’s reports that Eurostat is expected to rule that the State funds spent on Irish Water will have to remain on the Exchequer balance sheet until at least 2017.

Ms Shanley said, despite attempts by RTE to have somebody from Government speak on the show, nobody was available.

During the interview, they discussed the strength of the anti-water charges movement…

Keelin Shanley: “You would have to say politically: this is messy for them [Government], they’ve already had an awful lot of controversy around water charges. The movement did seem to be dying down, the anti-water charges movement, a little. How big a political fiasco is this for them?”

John Downing: “I believe it has that the anti-water charge movement was losing impetus and I think the Government were confident that it would be less of an election issue. This brings it right back. However, the timing of this news coming out is interesting: people going, already on holidays, people coming back from holidays, I think the Government will be hoping that it won’t be as noticeable as it might if it had emerged in September or October but it is very difficult for them and, at all events, we are now heading right into the teeth of an election campaign.”

Shanley: “I suppose the problem with this decision is that it seems to imply incompetence, that the Government thought the decision would go in another direction, you know, rather than implying that you might disagree with the ideology, the basic idea of paying for water, it says something about the way in which they’re working.”

Downing: “I believe so and I believe there was a point where, of all things, all the products, all the nasty products of austerity, water charges, for the bulk of middle Ireland was seen as reasonable and if we could see improved service and so on that people could have lived with it. I think, when you go back again to the point about the growth errors made by Irish Water, they have completely very, very seriously damaged that whole principle and, on that basis, at the end, as you say, it does, voters are entitled to say that this reflects on the competence of Government.”

Listen back here

Previously: Balance Sheet Hits The Fan

Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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74 thoughts on “‘The Movement Did Seem To Be Dying Down’

    1. Drogg

      They really don’t live on the same planet as the rest of us if they think it is dying down.

      1. scottser

        it’s more like, sure we don’t have to protest, they’re making such a t1ts of it themselves..

  1. classter

    Hmmm… it does reflect on the govt but more about how they have bowed to the water protestors in a foolish manner

      1. classter

        That’s where they went wrong in terms of not classifying it as off balance sheet.

        You might say that other revelations demonstrated also a lack of competence but that is not what Shanley’s quote referred to.

      1. classter

        Very droll, ollie.

        Can you explain to me why almost every other country in the OECD is wrong on this topic?

        1. ethereal_myst

          are we to take on all policies of other countries now?? ooh how about some rent control then, works well in Germany it seems

          1. classter

            We should at least consider what similar countries are doing, yes. And if every single one of them in doing something one way, we should at least have an excellent argument for why we would do it another way,

            Also, I think that rent control is well worth considering. Or certainly at least, some sort of rent control-lite which puts limits on the rate at which rents can be raised.

  2. Walter-Ego

    Lets show them how the movement is “dying down”. All roads lead to Dublin on August the 29th.

  3. Andrew Brennan

    If anything the protests gathered momentum after every public event. The Indo and other lamestream media – including RTE – continued to downplay the extent of the protests. Indeed the same media once championed the mythical ‘celtic tiger’, and quickly moved to championing ‘Austerity’ while ignoring the devastation it was causing in communities across Ireland and now the same media are cheer-leading the ‘Recovery’.

    The #IrishWater protests show us that there are many people in Ireland who won’t be fooled by thr media or the Government.

  4. Christopher

    I think I’m one of the middle classes who might actually agree that water is a service that should be paid for except it was quite clear from the beginning that this government had no idea how to set up a public utility without stuffing the pockets of their cronies and giving massive redundancies to county council worker just so they could go work for MORE pay in Irish Water. And lets not even get started on the Siteserv scandal.

    Happy to see it go onto the countriy’s balance sheet where water has ALWAYS been.

    1. CousinJack

      The middle don’t mind the concept of paying for water, they mind the sheer incompetence in the set up and implementation

      For example, IW are exempt from road opening licencing that everyone (incl ESB and Bord Gais) must obtain. this means the local council road and parks depts have no control over IW contractors. And the without this oversight the civil works contarctors work as fast as possible with no consideration for the public good (blocking drives for days on end, digging the road up outside schools during term time, etc, etc, thinks that council oversight would minimise). Contractor behavious has caused significant bad blood in missle class area.

      1. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

        I prefer to stay out of the missile class areas anyway. It’s like a warzone, you could say.

      2. classter

        ‘The middle don’t mind the concept of paying for water, they mind the sheer incompetence in the set up and implementation’

        I would agree, CousinJack, except that the protests have barely touched on governance of IW, nor alternative strategies for water management. All I hear is, ‘We’re paying twice’ and ‘I’m not paying’.

        1. scottser

          ‘All I hear is, ‘We’re paying twice’ and ‘I’m not paying’.

          everyone and their dog has suggestions as to how to manage our water. the greens came out with a strategy last week that included safeguarding the utility against privatisation and bringing the unit cost down before bills are sent out. IW’s objective has always been to take financing off the balance sheet since its inception – they’ve only every been about the money.

          1. classter

            ‘everyone and their dog has suggestions as to how to manage our water.’
            Not really. What are the alternate suggestions at present? Are they even nearly workable? Do they involve metering and charging for water or not?

            The Greens are not important players in the anti-water charges protest movement tbf, not least because they are not really against water charges. I reckon I essentially agree with them here.

          2. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

            Off the top of my head, because if you really wanted answers to your questions you’d bother your arse doing a simple google:

            1) Suggestions have been made to follow the Scottish Model which seems to be a big success.

            2) The Green party, as said above, have released proposals on how to manage water.

            3) Stephen Doherty has made proposals and also points out that the money raised from water charges barely covers the billing system so no money will go back into the upkeep of the infrastructure.

            4) One of the head guys from Right2Water has also made proposals.

          3. classter

            The Scottish model is effectively the same as ours with a single utility – ‘Scottish Water’, except that they didn’t install water meters (avg household charge £334 or 471 euros).

            Btw, there has never been a discussion of the ‘Scottish model’ on Broadsheet, Why? Because the debate raging is simply, ‘to water charge or not water charge.’ Most of the protestors are against – simple as that.

            R2W’s proposal merely seems to be that water should be free.

            I have searched Donnelly’s own website and I failed to find anything resembling a costed alternative to IW – only vague criticism (some clearly valid) and a call for a review of IW’s financial model. Indeed a major criticism of his seems to be that householders may have to pay to fix leaks on their own property.

            There is very little daylight between the Green’s plan and that which the govt proposed.

            So again, please do let me know when you have an alternative other than ‘We’re paying twice’ and ‘I’m not paying’

        2. Fergus the magic postman

          If that’s all you’re hearing, well then your just as out of touch as the government have been on this.
          From the word go, many, many protesters have been pointing out very severe misgivings on the setting up of Irish Water, from the blatant cronyism to the alleged (& likely) Siteserve corruption involved, and everything else in between. If alternative strategies need to be suggested for this, well then it’s just as well there’s an election looming.

          1. classter

            I wish this was true, Fergus, I really do.

            The furore began well before any link to Siteserv was established & even before any real teething difficulties with IW had been encountered.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure a greater level of competence may well have been possible (ignorant Phil Hogan was in charge) but I am far from convinced the public really wanted greater competence.

            I think they want the FF pretence continued – low taxes, folksy leadership and unrealistic public services, and a good aul moan when the services aren’t up to scratch.

      1. Drogg

        Well spending hundreds of millions on a new agency that is over paid and wants bonuses for their terrible performances isn’t going to fix anything ether.

          1. Drogg

            Yes but then they need to change the whole system adding in a new tax while their are taxes in place is nonsense they need to take away the other taxes then just make one payment but the real problem is no one wants to pay a corrupt organisation like IW anyhow are we supposed to actually regulate our water usage with meters out side under the ground where you can get at them and there need to be concessions for people who can’t pay and a limit on it cause on the released figures of what it could cost when it is a completely pay for usage service i worked out for my household we would be over €1000 a year and we are quite good with are usage so i would hate to see what a heavy users bill would be and to be honest a lot of people myself included don’t have that money to be spending.

          2. Drogg

            Papa P why don’t you go down to smithfield horse fair, you might find what you are looking for.

      2. ahjayzis

        Clamps – let’s raise income tax, you know, the one where everyone pays a fair rate according to their means?

        I don’t understand why people are supporting a flat tax here when it has nothing to do with levels of consumption or even water production – it’s to build a new system!

        1. Clampers Outside!

          I hear ya, look on the car tax thing, I’m being facetious, I’ve never believed it a good tax collection method… a bit here, a bit there, pointless short-termism.

          All our parties were afraid to tackle this. FG/L are to blame for the shambles that’s there, but FF are as much to blame for having avoided it through the boom years and earlier. The EU have been telling a mostly FF govt(s) since the early 80s…. can kicking gold stars all round for FF lackeys.

      3. Lorcan Nagle

        The problem Ihave with that attitude is that tax – and yes, it was primarily motor tax was collected and we were told it was earmarked for maintenance of the water system. And clearly, it wasn’t spent as we were told it would be. To me, the first step in fixing that problem is to start spending the collected tax appropriately.

        And yes, that could lead to an increase in tax, especially in a recession. But that’s OK because it’s more fair than a flat utility charge. The people who are going to be hardest by Irish Water – the poor and unemployed will be protected, while those of us who can afford to burden pay more.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          I hear ya.

          Our system of tax collection and its spending is useless and not at all properly unaccountable.
          Taxes should be used for what they are collected for, and some taxes should collect extra to pay for services where tax collection is not viable. Common sense, dream world stuff to implement when you consider all the muppets running the place.

          1. 15 cents

            the state of everything is what you get when you have ex-primary school teachers in charge.

          2. ahjayzis

            @ classter.

            If a flat tax was imposed to cover health – would you support it?

            Flat taxes don’t generally go down well because they’re the bloody definition of regressive and unfair.

          3. classter

            I would not support a flat tax to support health.

            So why the distinction?

            1) Water use and the cost of producing water is fairly easily qunatifiable, health services are not.

            2) One can decide to conserve water (fix leaks, using low-flush toilets, etc.) and it is clear that Irish people have been pretty blase about water conservation until recently. I do not believe that most health system users could (or should) ‘decide’ to use less health services.

            3) It seems likely that water will be an extremely important resource in the coming century. We need to make sure that we have the infrastructure in place to ensure continued / increased prosperity for the residents of this rain-sodden island. Sensible conservation, sufficient funding & a well-resourced, knowledgeable, central utility could (and should) be an important asset for us.
            And no, I don’t think IW should be privatised.

          4. ahjayzis

            Agree with points 1 and 2, but you left out the fact that flat taxes on anything is regressive and unfair.

            “3) It seems likely that water will be an extremely important resource in the coming century. We need to make sure that we have the infrastructure in place to ensure continued / increased prosperity for the residents of this rain-sodden island. Sensible conservation, sufficient funding & a well-resourced, knowledgeable, central utility could (and should) be an important asset for us.”

            Infrastructure needs to be put in place, agreed. But why is a single mother on the dole and Michael O’Leary expect to contribute the same euro amount to that infrastructure? By all means charge them the same for the water they *actually use* – but asking a young family on one wage and a multi-billionaire to contribute the same to a construction project is unsupportable IMO.
            You’re making no distinction between the required capital infrastructure project and the cost of supply and maintenance of that infrastructure – they’re two different issues conflated out of laziness and a (ultimately misplaced) sense of political expediency.

          5. classter

            I understand the view but I don’t think that a ‘flat tax’ on a commodity (and yes, water is a commodity) is regressive.

            Should your electricity be provided in a similar fashion? Gas? Petrol?

            I am hopeful that it will move back to being a consumption-based charge once IW is bedded down – assuming, of course, we dont rip it all up. If we do rip it up, I reckon we will definitely see privatisation of water services over the next decade or so.

            If social welfare rates need to be adjusted to suit, then fine, but it is important, imo, that people understand that a service has been provided.

      4. ollie

        clampers, there’s a difference between actually paying for water and paying for the bloated salaries of irish water employees.
        Twice the UK average salary, twice the number of employees. 120 managers with audi A6 cars.
        It’s a sham, a retirement home for John Tierney and his stool pidgeon Harnett.

        1. classter

          Have you got any verifiable stats on these, Ollie?

          Twice the average UK salary? Or twice the average salary for UK utility workers?

    1. classter

      flip[, forget water, your motor tax does not even NEARLY pay for the costs your car imposes on the rest of society. All those externalities that climate change economist talk about society picking up – your car is big part of that.

  5. bisted

    …one of the most astonishing things about this fiasco has to be the willingness of Labour to accept this poison chalice…then to give the portfolio to a gobshite like Alan Kelly who immediately tries to out-bluster and out-bully big Phil. FG mustn’t be able to believe thier luck…not only do they get rid of a lose canon but they pass the buck to another grasping labour party comrade willing to sarcrifice principle for pension and power.

    1. ahjayzis

      Facepalming over Kelly too. It’s hard to believe he’s actually in something called a Labour party, image of a grasping, incompetent, petulant bogger FG/FF minister promoted about 5 million miles beyond their ability.

      1. Christopher

        I remember him from when was running for Senator and he had a good social media team- I actually thought he seemed pretty decent. Sadly he showed his true incompetent colours since he took over from Phil “how did I not end up with a punch in face from everyone that has ever met me” Hogan.

  6. Mr. T.

    Was Donkey O’Rourke on holidays again?

    “Hee Haw, GAA, Money, Fine Gael, Banter, Hee Haw, Front Parlour, I’m well off, Hee Haw, Ah here now I hate the Shinners, Hee Haw, Banter”

    1. ahjayzis

      “Heee Hawwww tell us again how same-sex marriage is the French term for mammyless surrogacy Heee Hawww with two days to the referendum Heee Hawww and no mention that yesterday the RefCom emphatically put this sh1t to bed Heee Hawwwww”


      Lost all respect for him that day, and the Monday after the result when he called in sick.

  7. ollie

    eurostat report was due in April but that wouldn’t suit either the troika puppetmaster or finegael/labour puppets.

  8. swoon

    All taxes taken in by the Gov should be trackable in real time or as close as possible to it.How much is allocated for this department or that department.How every penny is spent including Tds expenses.If we could access this information as easily as viewing our own bank balance on a phone app then people would start to trust gov.Until then everything will continue to be done dehind closed doors with very little transparency or accountability.

    1. ollie

      TDs expenses are published every month. for example Alan Kelly claims €1,333.13 each and every month. The interesting thing is that this figure never changes, even when he’s on holidays.
      This proves that he’s a dishonest man.

  9. andy moore

    Dying they say !! just shows mainstream journalists ,especially those of the Indo are bethrothed by threat to report government line & through fear of dismissal hasn’t engaged with anti-charges movement & for the 9’999th time this is about far more than a few bob a week to pay for water & any journo who believes that seriously deserves to be ejected from the NUJ ??

    1. classter

      Nice, journos who believe differently than you don’t deserve union representation!

      1. ahjayzis

        It does betray either a stunning lack of knowledge/ journalistic insight or a wilful compliance in peddling government propaganda though.

        In no way is this thing about less than 200 squid a year.

        1. classter

          Does it?

          What else are the protests about?

          There are no real signs that the voters are genuinely serious about having politics done in an honest, serious way. The next Dail will have a quite a few Lowry types. Many of today’s pols will be punished for telling the truth to the electorate, many of the opposition will be rewarded for uncosted nonsense. Some ministers who have managed to spread a bit of pork to their constituencies will be rewarded.

          1. ahjayzis

            Not one aspect of this rollout has been conducted in an honest, serious or competent way. Please, please point out where this strategy has been a success in any real and quantifiable way.

            Politics will be done in a serious way when fools like you aren’t digesting whole the releases from the government press office.

            Mismanagement on an epic scale.

            Flagrant wastes of taxpayer money.

            Quango-culture continuing unabated and unreformed even after all we’ve suffered and all we’ve been promised.

            Bonuses in a monopoly.

            “Commercial Sensitivity” FOI stonewalling in a monopoly.

            A flat charge for a capital project regardless of income.

            SiteServ, a company we owned, sold for a pittance to DOB by an FG government, then flipped and charging US half a billion for metering.

            That half a billion worth of meters no longer being use nor ornament.

            Double-taxation, as MT and VAT will not be lowered to reflect water funding is to come from another source.

            Labour breaking a cast-iron election promise (again)

            John Tierney, a failure in Dublin, awarded top job, bringing his mates in from the Poolbeg fiasco.

            Consultancy fees WILDLY inflated after Bord Gais winning a tender on the basis they already had the knowledge in-house.

            A clause stating PPS numbers can be disclosed to *prospective buyers* when it’s *sold*

            Landlords made responsible for tenants bills.

            I literally could go on.

            Government requires the consent of the governed – only a fool would consent to this master-class in political spinelessness, incompetence and administrative idiocy continuing.
            A ‘serious’ electorate engages and calls out chronic misgovernance, sheep lie down and take this insult to our intelligence.

          2. classter

            Ah you’re gettign me all wrong.

            My point is that the controversy re IW is not about competence, it is about having to pay.

            My evidence was that the voters don’t generally seem to prioritise competence in any sort of consistent, sensible way.

            I am certainly not trying to extol the work of Big Phil Hogan.

          3. ahjayzis

            There IS a hardcore that wouldn’t pay under any system, sure, but it’s a minority.
            My family are evidence to the contrary for you, they just can’t bring themselves to register and pay – it’s an indignity having to condone this fraud. Everyone else I’ve spoken to is in the same boat, for in principle, cannot be party to this mess. It’s a class issue I think – but they’re united in the aim to see IW consigned to history.

            The sad thing is, there’s now no alternative – this government, the last, and Irish Water have literally poisoned the well, there won’t be a fair, sustainable system of water charges for a generation now, maybe ever, once IW is wound up / emasculated, which I’m convinced it will be.

            But that’s not the fault of the Right2Water campaign, it’s the kind of criminal negligence school of governance we just can’t seem to get rid of.

          4. classter

            I would be delighted, ahjaysis, if there were protests specifically about those kinds of issues. Instead, the whole thing can be portrayed as a battle between those who pay for nothing (at all ends of the social spectrum) and those that pay for everything.

            Some of your points I agree with completely – FOI stonewalling, PPS numbers, Bord Gais selling their relevant division & then us paying consultancy fees (largely to legal & accountancy firms).

            Most of the other points I don’t:
            Double-taxation is nonsense – we run a current account deficit, previously we pretended that construction wasn’t cyclical.
            Capital project – I think it is fine to bundle up the cost of necessary infrastructure with the cost of maintenance & supply. Why shouldn’t the users pay for this infrastructure?
            Meters – the meters will be used for information immediately & realistically we know that this charge will (rightfully) be based on consumption in a few years.
            Landlords – I have no great problem with landlords being made responsible for the water used on their premises. I reckon landlords get left away with far too little accoutnability in Ireland. This is the reason there are so many unprofesssinal, part-time, petit bourgeois landlords in Ireland.
            John Tierney – He is not ideal but the govt struggled to attract qualified candidates at the salary offered. His CV is good on paper even if he has been involved with some controversial projects.

            Other points need more context – performance related pay (‘bonuses’) are often reasonable. Is there a good reason why some part of IW employees pay should not be ‘performance-related’?
            Siteserv is not clear. There certainly is some hint of impropriety and/or incompetence but nothing vaguely concrete.

            Some points may or may not be true but don’t mean anything specifically – ‘quango culture’, ‘epic mismanagement’

          5. classter

            Your final post is scary, ahjayzis.

            It smacks of the kind of lazy, all-or-nothing, shure everything’s kind of sh!te anyway attitude that makes things so easy for the Phil Hogans & Bertie Aherns of this world.

            Your conclusion basically is that if I want water conservation or something approaching a sensible national plan for water infrastructure, then I have to oppose the likes of you. I have to row in behind the likes of Phil Hogan completely. I need to be either with the govt or against the govt.

            It doesn’t need to be like that & blaming it on politicans is the easy way out. Why can’t we fight to make the best of what is proposed rather than opposing everything until perfection comes along?

          6. Lorcan Nagle

            >>I would be delighted, ahjaysis, if there were protests specifically about those kinds of issues. Instead, the whole thing can be portrayed as a battle between those who pay for nothing (at all ends of the social spectrum) and those that pay for everything.<<

            While I get where you're coming from, you likely won't see that level of differentiation from a protest movement for a number of reasons:

            Firstly, it's confusing for everyone – Is the protest this week for the people who are against all water charges, or just against Irish Water?

            Second, it dilutes (ha) the movement. 10,000 people on the streets marching against water charges is more impressive than three marches of 3-4,000 people each.

            Thirdly, there's overlap between the different groups – I don't agree 100% with the people who don't want any charges, but I still march beside them because we agree on more points than we disagree.

            It's the same with any movement – The March for Choice is on in September, for example, and some of the people there will only want abortion for health reasons, others will want it legal but not covered by the HSE, and others will want it free to whomever wants it. But they'll all march together for their common cause.

          7. classter

            Fair point, Lorcan.

            For me however is that most of the protestors simply do not want to pay any more money to the govt. & don’t want water charges.

            I don’t mind paying more money to the govt (nor water charges in particular) but I want effective, competent services in return.

            If I march with the protestors, I am helping any possibility of consumption-based water charges and of a central, professional water utility & that is something I can’t go along with.

  10. Truth in the News

    The pompous John Downing droning on this morning, but won’t state the ovious
    nor would Shanley with her posh accent, the reality is that taxing water is “dead
    in the water” and the political carnage will be a delighful spectacle to observe
    Who sold this junta the idea that you should tax people for water that they are already paying for and on top of that paying road tax that goes to Irish Water and which goes back to 1977.

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