“Oh look at me!!! I’ve made the #Right2Water campaign look foolish!!!”, to paraphrase Fianna Fáil TD and brother of Bertie’s successor, Barry Cowen during the past week.
At an Oireachteas hearing (aka Joint Committee on Future Funding of Domestic Water Services Debate), Cowen asked representatives of the movement if they were in favour of a charge for excessive use of water, to which he was replied in the positive.
Deputy Barry Cowen: I ask the witnesses to answer the following. If this committee was in a position to agree a process by which people who use excessive amounts, in the opinion of this committee, were charged, is Right2Water happy with that?
Mr. Steve Fitzpatrick: Yes.
This led Cowen to go on twitter as though he had somehow convinced a vegetarian to enter a Big Mac eating competition.
Right2Water confirms to me at Oireachtas Committee that they are in favour of charging households for excessive use of water
— Barry Cowen (@CowenBarry) February 21, 2017
After Paul Murphy TD of AAA-PBP accused Cowen of “selective quoting”, The Journal decided to do one of its “fact-check” articles, which in essence served to back up the very picture Cowan was trying to paint, ie one that only pro-Establishment readers would appreciate.
Let’s back up this particular truck, shall we.
First we need to make a clear distinction between what regulating water is meant to do, and what instead our government actually did.
Of COURSE we should be regulating water usage. It is an important resources and should not be wasted. But before we do so, we need to identify who is wasting it the most and target the regulation at them. This clearly brings the private sector in the firing line way before domestic users, but this State has never been led by a Government that would acknowledge this.
Instead, the Fine Gael-led government (yes, I know, with Labour also in tow) sought to establish a revenue stream (pun fully intended) for a new corporate cash-cow known as Irish Water, and began charging the general public long before there was any opportunity to gauge which houses were using excessive amounts of water.
And on top of the specifics of the #Right2Water movement, the main reason it earned itself such incredible public support wasn’t just because of the water issue itself, but also because it was the straw that broke the Irish camel’s back after successive years of austerity following the banking crisis which happened under Bertie Ahern’s, and ultimately Brian Cowen’s, watch.
Even without the most recent poll numbers, when Fianna Fáil party leader and former Minster under Bertie, Micheal Martin eventually has the balls to bring down this current Government and call an election, seeing how the wider voting Irish public sees only two possible parties for leadership, he will be Taoiseach.
Would it be crazy to assume that his government would quickly seek to establish water charges exactly as Fine Gael had done, using the above selective testimony as some kind of justification? With Cowan as the Minster responsible, no less? JLP