The last year has seen a lot of media coverage in relation to the water charges and it has also seen a major suppression of facts and figures. Figures such as attendance numbers at protests or how many customers had registered were more often than not omitted and if presented incorrect. On the 14th of July something rare happened. Despite Irish Water plc using more window dressing than Brown Thomas at X-mas and the best efforts of the neo-fascists in Leinster House using more spin than an Indian cricket bowler, minimal coverage from the State’s media outlets/mouth pieces for the upper tiers (tomato/tomato) a story came to light. The story was to have a short life span mainly confined to the realm of the radio talk show. The story was that for the first time in a long time we the people were winning against those who wish to carrel us as they continue to feather their own nests.
The information that was key to the importance of this story was this; of the “registered” customers on the ledgers of Irish Water plc less than 50% have paid. Millions of euros of tax from places such as the State Pension Fund wasted on propaganda. Various High Court injunctions. A slew of bullying and coercive tactics were waged on the population. Combining the threat of the stick with the lure of the carrot those who were elected to safe guard the nations interests once again chose to attempt to further disenfranchise us and the children of tomorrow. But they were and are now failing in at least one of those attempts.
With the national campaign of opposition starting to become long and drawn out, a factor that those wishing to impose control often rely upon, this news was like a clear summer breeze clearing the stale air.
Since this campaign began it has gone from strength to strength. Nobody I have ever spoken to, or myself for that matter, ever expected the ground swell of mobilisation that has occurred in communities. Time and again this movement has surpassed the expectations of those involved and shown that the spirit of the Irish though subdued by decades of State and Church suppression is alive and fighting again. This news snippet was a hard fact, that not only have we the people taken those behind Irish water to the ropes again but they are now shaking at the knees and another few blows will see the T.K.O that we have all been waiting for.
Back to the carrot and the stick. As the news of low payment rates surfaced so too the stories of further changes to the forthcoming services bill. What has so far been passed in Leinster House is outrageous yet it is by no means what the government have tried to pretend they could do. This is not like the property tax and the revenue cannot simply take payment from your source of income. It is not law yet and the fact that the Bill has passed proves one thing; Irish Water is categorised as a “creditor” just like any other utility or service. Just like the ESB or UPC or Sky TV. Before Irish Water can get a judge to attach an order to deduct the required amount from your wages and/or Social Welfare your bill must be over €500. This means that not only will we have a general election before the first bill reaches that limit but if you have paid the first bill you are in a very strong position not to pay any more as they will have to deal with 800,000 + individuals who boycotted the first payment before you have any cause for thought. So while the stick of implied forced deductions was being waved by the shambolic corporate reps in Leinster House where was the carrot?
It turns out that there was to be no fresh attempt to buy the public this month, in fact it was the reverse. ‘EU corporate governance officials have been asked to examine the Government’s Irish Water conservation grant over claims that it is simply an “inducement” to encourage people to sign up to charges.’ Independent senator Gerard Craughwell said he knows of “no other grant anywhere in the world” which can be given without any evidence it is being spent as requested, claiming it is effectively an “inducement” to convince people to sign up to charges. He also stated that he “cannot believe” the bill allows public money to be transferred to a private utility “by proxy”. Does this mean that the government will be penalised for trying to bribe its citizens? Not likely, what is likely is that a year or two down the line the conservation grant will be withdrawn. So the stick is smaller than we are led to believe, yet so is the carrot.
As July ran on so did the stories. One of the most laughable stories of this saga to emerge so far was that of an Irish Water employee being called a hero. Whilst attending the kind of event where wealthy sociopaths reward other members of their in-group for their efforts the employee was presented with an ‘Enterprise Award’ for his work for what is referred to by any media outlet outside of Ireland as a “semi-state” corporation. The corporate back slapping event was held across the pond and its organisers must not have been aware of a story that would break a few days later, or perhaps they were. ‘Irish Water faces key financial risks if commercial customers refuse to pay their bills’ which is what is happening on masse.
Not yet content with the games being played with our nation’s financial stability the utility now plans to borrow further. Ervia chief executive Michael McNicholas (who earned €334,000 last year) mentioned to the press that Irish Water now plan to turn to the banks for assistance stating “They (banks) are saying they’re interested in lending money to Irish Water. They totally understand we’re a start-up.” Let us hope that they totally understand the company last year made a loss of €138m and its’ borrowings for this year thus far stand at €450 million. Of the total 1.3 Billion deficits run up by Irish water €400 million was taken from the National Pensions Reserve Fund.
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist
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