More Pricks Than Kicks

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From top: Ryan Tubridy, Oliver Callan, Dearbhail McDonald and Richard Corrigan on last Friday’s Late Late Show; Abbe Marie McNally; Anne Marie McNally

It took a mimic to express what many are still afraid to say.

Anne Marie McNally writes:

It’s a thankfully rare occasion that I’d be sitting watching The Late Late Show on a Friday night and last week was no exception.

I never thought I’d find myself in the position of getting home late on a Friday night only to discover, courtesy of Twitter, that I’ve missed an actual useful, real and impartial public affairs analysis on, of all things, The Late Late Show.

Fast forward a couple of hours and a surprisingly fresh Amo awakes to find that those lovely Twitter people – as they are wont to do-have clipped the relevant segment and its rapidly going viral.

And why wouldn’t it?

Finally someone had found the courage to say what almost every concerned citizen is thinking, and not only did he say it but he persisted in saying it even when The Fear almost propelled Ryan Turbidy across the desk to try and stop him saying it.

They say the best comedy is that which cuts closest to the bone and nobody can argue that Oliver Callan is ever far from the bone however his comments on Friday night were, unfortunately, not comedy but genuine and honest analysis of a situation where the nexus between big business and politics has infiltrated Irish public life to the point that not only is the media which is directly owned by the omnipotent Denis O’Brien potentially conflicted, but the media outside his ownership is so terrified of his penchant for litigation that it too finds itself stymied.

The result, Mr Callan surmised (correctly in my opinion) is that the average citizen has a less than detailed understanding of just how toxic and sullied some of our public representatives and aspects of political and business life are in Ireland today.

Mr Callan pointed to the fact that the people of Tipperary continue to elect Michael Lowry despite the findings of the Moriarty report. Is this because they don’t know or worse still because they don’t care, he asked.

He then made the very valid point that our Taoiseach, despite rousing speeches in the Chamber calling for action on the findings of Moriarty, allowed himself to share public stages throughout the past 5 years with Mr Denis O’Brien, a person about whom the Moriarty Tribunal made serious adverse findings.

Later today the Dáil will finally get to debate a motion on Irish Water. The wording of the Motion has yet to be agreed but it’s likely to contain something representing a compromise/fudge from both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

There has been a bit of discourse in recent days about how, for many people, water charges are not that big of a deal.

While that may well be true, the reality of the situation is that Irish Water has become a very tangible representation of the golden circle and cronyism so rife in public life.

It can’t be far from many people’s minds just how connected the dots are if you draw a line between Esat, Moriarty, Lowry, O’Brien, Siteserv, Hogan, Enda and Irish Water. It’s like a paint by numbers exercise but the picture it paints sure ain’t pretty.

The vast majority of people I meet are suspicious that Fine Gael’s (& Labour’s) entrenchment on the water issue is due to certain future commitments or guarantees it may have provided to vested interests regarding the privatisation of water services.

That may or may not be the case but the fact remains that people’s trust has been so badly abused they now have a sense of unease about most actions of establishment politicians.

When you watch footage of Enda standing on international stages cosying up to Denis O’Brien after Moriarty has made his findings you cannot be blamed for wondering what the hell is going on?

When you know that Phil Hogan has a relationship with O’Brien dating back decades including a time when Hogan successfully sought donations from O’Brien for a FG campaign he was running and that this is the same Hogan who presided over the chaotic establishment of Irish Water, your nose twitches.

When you know that Michael Noonan led the Department which ‘missed’ the ‘unsatisfactory’ sale of Siteserv to O’Brien just before it went onto win 4 of the Irish Water metering contracts, you surely find yourself sniffing something rotten?

Unless you believe that all those interconnections are the most mutually beneficial episode of Blind Date ever, you’d hardly be wrong in thinking Oliver Callan hit the nail on the head the other night.

Just don’t wait for the media O’Brien owns to tell you that nor the other 50% of the media who are afraid of his over zealous legal eagles.

Anne Marie McNally is a founding member of the Social Democrats. Follow Anne Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally

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82 thoughts on “More Pricks Than Kicks

  1. brownbull

    Conspiracies are actually very rare, this kind of stuff is usually explained by a combination of apathy and incompetence, ‘it’s not my position to interfere it that’, ‘that is not my role’. In order to get a cosy deal on the purchase of a troubled utilities company and to then be in a position to bid on large public contracts, it’s highly unlikely that someone in a decision-making capacity facilitated all this as part of a conspiracy, it would have been that nobody saw fit to ask any questions, and nobody saw fit to call halt. People prefer conspiracies because the alternative is a lot worse, that our individual and collective inaction ultimately dooms us a society to be rode over roughshod by those with means.

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      The fact that conspiracies are rare doesn’t mean they are non existent. The outgoing Government (and their predecessors) now have such a record of mendacity that they are not, and cannot be, trusted.

    2. Clampers Outside!

      But it’s not a conspiracy.
      And calling it one after the findings of The Moriarty Tribunal only perpetuates the idea that it is, and obfuscates the situation further. Please stop.

      1. Anne

        I think the meaning of the act of conspiring has been lost with the term ‘conspiracy theory’ being used pejoratively by people who haven’t really a bull’s notion of the details of what’s being discussed.

        Let’s just say they’re ‘in cahoots’.. it sounds like conspiratorial :)

        We don’t need another silencing of our Dail and threats being issued to the national broadcaster to know who’s in cahoots with who.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          Well that’s it. They don’t really understand what’s going on. They just know people are saying bad things about their masters which makes them uncomfortable. Instead of educating themselves, they try and paint the people saying the bad things as kooks so they don’t have to take the time to consider what they’re actually saying. Basically;

          ‘The government might have done some dudgeon deal on th…’
          ‘Lalala, I’m not listening, Lalala. You’re just crazy. Lalala.’

      2. classter

        I don;t believe that IW is a conspiracy.

        But there are very reasonable questions about the links between DOB/Lowry/Kenny/Hogan.

    3. Extramax

      Brownbull – it sounds like that’s part of Callans point – the white collar crims are in charge cos neither the politicians nor joe public seem all that bothered at the end of the day. Bear in mind despite everything that has happened, FF & FG still get half of the national vote.

    4. Pip

      I had a teacher who would interrupt anyone disclosing anything outside the rules, or trying to stir it, with ‘I don’t wish to know that’.
      He was closely involved in politics for a while.

    5. Lordblessusandsaveus

      “‘it’s not my position to interfere it that’”

      That’s complicity though.

    6. Anne

      A conspiracy is an agreement by two or more people to commit an illegal or subversive act.. and you think that’s not common?

      Do you need another tribunal maybe?

    1. classter

      TBF they were once ‘relatively’ clean (relative to FF).

      Kenny’s approach, I have always felt, through his term of office has been to mimic FF & thus he completely blew the chance to make FG the natural party of govt.

  2. Rob_G

    “The vast majority of people I meet are suspicious that Fine Gael’s (& Labour’s) entrenchment on the water issue is due to certain future commitments or guarantees it may have provided to vested interests regarding the privatisation of water services.”

    – I imagine it’s more to do with the fact that they staked (and lost) a large amount of political capital on the introduction of water charges.

    What will be the incentives to conserve water under the Soc Dems proposal to have no metering or charges?

    1. dav

      they want to sell off our water, that has been proven, your deflections on the issue are for naught

        1. some old queen

          No but given that is exactly what happened to Ervia the parent company, it was highly likely.

    2. ahjayzis

      We lose HALF of all our potable water through leaks, not household profligacy. Fix the leaks and we’ll have a 50% oversupply. Domestic users are not responsible for the tight margins on production, Ireland isn’t streets ahead of Britain in personal water usage.

        1. ahjayzis

          Plenty of ways. District metering for one, breaking the network up into valved sections you can isolate off. District meters are one per every 1000-2000 houses. A meter in every front garden is a charging mechanism, there’s no logic in it being a solely leak detection system.

          http://www.waterloss-reduction.com/index.php/en/solutions/district-metered-areas-dmas
          http://www.thameswater.co.uk/media/press-releases/15868.htm
          https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/bitstream/handle/10871/17152/Design%20and%20Performance%20of%20District%20Metering%20Areas%20in%20Water%20Distribution%20Systems.pdf?sequence=1

          Literally nowhere else touts introducting MILLIONS of domestic meters as somehow the solution to leaks. The cost alone is insane. Hammer to crack a nut etc.

          1. Owen C

            so why have we not done this previously? I’m asking this because I’m assuming there is some genuine rationale for not doing so already. Or is the current local-council management of water supply that incredibly poor?

          2. ahjayzis

            Because it transparently was an austerity measure and nothing to do with conservation. The existence and criteria for the ‘conservation’ grant is that fact writ large, in that no conservation required.

            Splitting water up among 30+ councils was always a bad idea, yes their management was poor, due to no political advantage existing for central government to fund their water departments or for councillors to prioritise water conservation.

            I’m not against charging for use, I am against this system, and this quango, because it is an austerity measure, because it’s balance sheet fiddling, because it doesn’t incentive conservation, because it repeated every single mistake of the HSE amalgamation and locked in inflated costs for years, because it was introduced as incomes were falling and a bevy of other charges were coming into force. If you set out to make water conservation and charging a toxic issue for a generation you’d go about it this way.

          3. Steve

            DMAs were installed in the 90s by a few LAs, including DCC. They were left largely to rot after installation because lack of funds. There is no harmonised Telemetry system in place to monitor flows through DMAs . A national quango for such a national system would be a good idea wouldn’t it ahjaysis?? :)

            Domestic meters are extremely good for spotting leaks within your premises. Turn your taps off , dishwasher etc and if the meter is still flowing you have a leak within / under the house which could be affecting the foundations etc. Irish water trials have shown that the majority of leaks are within premises. You might want to get such internal leaks fixed.

            Re privatisation – even during the height of the recession and the call for extra funds was deafening only one state asset was privatised – bord Gais energy. A supply company with no network assets on its balance sheet. Another red herring.

          4. Rob_G

            @ ahjaysis

            – think that you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater (if you will excuse the expression). Most people seem to be of the opinion that there should be one authority for water rather than 30 county councils; the setting up of IW was far, far from perfect, but anything that involved phasing out a large number of public sector jobs in one go was always going to involve a large degree of compromise and fudging of issues.

            “because it is an austerity measure, because it’s balance sheet fiddling”
            – I think they are both plusses, personally – the govt needs to expand its revenue base

            “because it doesn’t incentive conservation”
            – very true – but can you imagine the uproar if people were expected to pay the full cost of water provision from the outset?

            “t repeated every single mistake of the HSE amalgamation and locked in inflated costs for years”
            – very true; probably necessary to keep the inflated staff costs, as mass redundancies in all county councils would not fly

          5. some old queen

            @ steve. Bord Gais Energy was part of Bord Gais. The company was split before Energy was privatised. The network (and assets) became Ervia which is now the parent company of Irish water.

            There is a template in place already.

          6. Steve

            I know all that so what’s your point?? I see a template where crucial vs non. Crucial state assets ( network asset company versus energy supply company) is separated out to ensure crucial state assets stay in public ownership. If the last government had wanted to increase the value of BG sale by a multiple of 5-6 then it would have included the networks in the sale to the consortium. What this proves is that FG realised the mistake of telecom eireann and realised the need to keep crucial state assets in state ownership.

            Irish water , like bord Gais networks or GNI, as it’s now called , are crucial state assets, network utilities , and are still in state ownership.

            On Irish water being the new HSE. Irish water published a business plan which said it wanted to reduce the 4000 LA staff to 2500 by 2021. That wouldn’t happen if the power went back to the LAs under the FF plan.

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            “even during the height of the recession and the call for extra funds was deafening only one state asset was privatised – bord Gais energy. ”

            And Aer Lingus. That’s a pretty big one one.

          8. MoyestWithExcitement

            Also, how much of our oil and gas do we actually own? Is it none? I think it might be none.

          9. some old queen

            @ Rob I assume that you think it is ok to privatise water supply but not the assets except, that the supply is what is really important. The idea that ‘for profit’ service provision is preferable does not stack up. The supplier pays a large upfront fee and expensive collection administration, both of which are added to the bill. If you doubt what I am saying, have a look at what happened in Paris.
            http://in.reuters.com/article/water-utilities-paris-idINL6N0PE57220140708

        2. Clampers Outside!

          Why have we gone XXX years without finding the leaks?

          Because successive govts, mostly FF, were ignoring consistent recommendations from the EU to upgrade the water system since the early 80s. It wasn’t that they couldn’t be found, but that they weren’t even looked for.

          1. classter

            The main reason for this was because nobody paid for their water, they did not have any value on the water.

            Therefore water infrastructure could be safely ignored & funding sent elsewhere.

    3. MoyestWithExcitement

      FG invested political capital in privatising our national assets. What AM said is true. They promised their masters big shiny contracts with OUR money and OUR assets and don’t want to go back on it.

      1. Serf

        Misleading nonsense. What national assets? BTW, AerLingus was already publicly quoted, so doesn’t count.

        1. Kieran NYC

          It’s another step in his evolution towards the full Zuppy International or Truth In The News-type troll persona.

          Big day for Moyest.

    4. some old queen

      And why is end point conservation so important to you when 50% of supply is currently leaked on the network?

      1. Rob_G

        Where do you think that the money to fix the network would come from? There doesn’t seem to have been any political will among generations of elected officials to invest in the water infrastructure; better to put it into the hands of quango, IMO.

        Also, the principle of the thing – why should someone who waters their lawn twice a week not pay more than someone who takes measures to conserve water?

        1. some old queen

          Where do I think the money would come from? Well not water charges that is for sure because they don’t even cover the cost of collection.

          As for principles, everyone is free to do what they like but water usage in Ireland is relatively speaking not high.

          1. Serf

            Grand so, sounds like nothing needs to be done for another 20 years. Or maybe the Brits might come back and build us another Vartry mains.

          2. Nigel

            You mean not water charges as they are currently incompetently and disastrously implemented?

          3. classter

            Water usage should be a bit lower than the Southeast of England, given that they have a much warmer climate & presumably much more water lost on gardens etc.

            Why isn’t it?

          4. classter

            The water charges don’t (currently) cover the cost of collection because the govt retreated under public pressure & reduced them.

            I support water charges but I have little doubt that (if they remain) in a few charges they will be substantially higher (as per most European countries).

          5. some old queen

            @ Classter and Nigel.

            Irish Water’s finance plan was based on an 80% compliance of ‘pay as you go’. Even then at full before it was reduced to a flat rate it would not have even paid the collection costs.

            It’s in the public Domain so go do some reading please?

          1. some old queen

            Roads were sexy but water was hidden. Money was available for both. Now the person who turns on the tap needs to “conserve”.

  3. Broadsheet Spawned A Monster

    Complete rubbish. This irrelevance will be wiped out and obliterated at next gen elec

  4. Harry Molloy

    I’m sick to death of Irish water by this stage anyway, there’s issues that are infinitely more important that should take precedent, e.g. housing (not just social), healthcare, affordable childcare

  5. boggo

    and not a squeak out of Ms McD when Redacted was mentioned and who is usually not short of an opinion.

  6. Brian S

    I’ll happily pay once cat is reduced by 2% and motor tax by 6%. Funny how none of the politicians independent or otherwise are calling for this to happen. I have all my motor tax receipts and am happy to calculate how much I’ve paid over the years, more than enough to cover the iw “bills” they send me, if they should ever wish to pursue me through the courts they will find it costing them more than the debt they think I owe

    1. classter

      Motor tax does not currently come close to covering the costs drivers impose on the rest of Irish society.

      Forget any left over ‘covering’ water bills.

  7. DubLoony

    “The vast majority of people I meet are suspicious that Fine Gael’s (& Labour’s) entrenchment on the water issue is due to certain future commitments or guarantees it may have provided to vested interests regarding the privatisation of water services.”

    Irish Water is not privatized.
    It was not planned to be privatized.
    In order to make sure that if it ever came up as an issue, Labour’s Alan Kelly put in section 2, Waters services Act 2014 that a public vote, a plebiscite, would be needed to pass before it could happen.

    If there is any evidence that there are guarantees to any vested interests, then make them public.

    The provision of water is fundamental to our life and health. Right now we don’t supply potable water to all homes in this country, raw sewage is pumped untreated out to sea.
    That is why there is entrenchment to the water issue. Because it does need to be fixed.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Pleblicites can be overturned by the government of the day. Why do you think he used that and not a referendum?

      1. DubLoony

        Because referendums refer only to constitutional issues.
        Change of ownership can only happen when voted on by both Dail and people.

        Plebiscite on ownership of Irish Water
        2. (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.

        1. ahjayzis

          They can hold a plebiscite… or they can use a majority vote in the Dail to remove that section of the bill and void the need for one.

          1. classter

            Hold on. What does the extract above mean?

            (a) and (b) and (c)

            Or

            (a) or (b) or (c)

            ????

        2. MoyestWithExcitement

          “Change of ownership can only happen when voted on by both Dail and people”

          No, they just need the Dail. Kelly could run for reelection on the promise he won’t sell water and then change his mind if he gets a majority in the Dail to agree and vote to that effect. We, the people, don’t have to be consulted. Do you think we can trust these people not to sell it considering their record?

        3. some old queen

          BS is there any chance of getting LCD to comment on this please? It somewhat gets to the heat of the matter as to whether a referendum is needed or not.

    1. Mario Balotelli

      Yeah, such a cowardly little creep.. visibly s.hat himself.. “He’s not here to defend his good name”.. ffs..

      1. ahjayzis

        “He’s not here to defend hsi good name… so I will.”

        It wasn’t balance it was injecting, it was shutting down the issue as quick as possible. A state broadcaster in constant fear is no bloody use.

          1. classter

            Nah, he’s terrible interviewer.

            Isn’t funny & can’t think on his feet.

            I wonder if RTE had made him a presenter of pre-prepared shows rather than a live show whether I’d actually think he was alright.

  8. rotide

    It can’t be far from many people’s minds just how connected the dots are if you draw a line between Esat, Moriarty, Lowry, O’Brien, Siteserv, Hogan, Enda and Irish Water.

    OPEN YOUR EYES SHEEPLE

  9. Punches Pilot

    “The vast majority of people I meet are suspicious that Fine Gael’s (& Labour’s) entrenchment on the water issue is due to certain future commitments or guarantees it may have provided to vested interests regarding the privatisation of water services”

    Couldn’t agree more. Hence Fianna Fail need to halt this massive transfer or autonomy and wealth before all the fruit is picked and allow them time to get their own cronies in position. We are idiots.

  10. Eoin

    I think when you get this kind of talk from a comedian on a fairly casual, mainstream chatshow you got a problem for the establishment. And people are slowly waking up to the amount of moral hazard and outright corruption going on in Ireland. But it’s so vast that normalcy bias kicks in and people tend to think of actual real conspiracy as theory instead. It can’t be real? Surely the press would have picked up on it? Surely some watchdog would prevent it? Well no. And the old FG/FF tricks for hoodwinking people aren’t going work as well from now on. For the first time a lot of people see them as the pretty much the same party now. And the system has created the Lowrys and Healy Raes of this country. Well always have them as long as people in Tipp and Kerry feel they are getting the shaft from Dublin. Which is nonsense. Everyone gets the shaft from Dublin including Dublin.

  11. groggerz2016

    “While that may well be true, the reality of the situation is that Irish Water has become a very tangible representation of the golden circle and cronyism so rife in public life”
    That’s it for me –
    well said Ann-Marie

  12. sendog

    I see the apologists are out in force.
    its all just a series of unrelated unintended coincidences!!

    Tell me apologists what do you get outta it? like when you were defending the likes of Haughey, de bert, the church etc. Do you feel a sense of security defending the status que? Do ye secretly aspire to be like these people?

    Or am i overthinking things and ye are in fact mindless idiots willing to accept the same excuses over and over.

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