Enda Kenny, not a penny!
Fionnuala Carolan on why the introduction of a water tax represented attrocious timing on the government's part
11 November 2014 | 0
The Irish Water debacle has dominated the media for months now but the severity of the mess has really peaked in recent weeks. It gets more farcical as time goes on and people are entirely fed up of being treated like idiots and expected to sit by and pay for a service that is one, not fit for purpose and two, being set up in a completely haphazard manner. Last weekend the people finally decided to take to the streets en masse to send the government a strong message, which is that they can’t pay and they won’t pay or as the chant goes, “Enda Kenny, not a penny!” Watching the coverage of the protests, it was evident that people were genuinely upset. Many of those interviewed said the reason they were protesting was because paying for water was “the last straw” and that they had “nothing left to give”.
I don’t believe that the issue is about paying for water. If we hadn’t been subjected to the Local Property Tax, the Universal Social Charge and years of austerity, people would probably accept that it makes sense to pay for water. It’s a natural resource and if you put a value on it people will be more inclined to conserve and respect it.
From research carried out by FMI for our sustainability supplement in this month’s issue (pages 36-53), we have learned that Irish people understand the importance of acting in a sustainable manner and most want to play their part in safeguarding our natural resources. The research shows that 85% of consumers thought sustainability was an important consideration when making purchasing decisions.
It’s a shame then that the government has chosen this point in time, when the Irish public are jaded from the harsh economic climate they have lived through over the past six years, to introduce such a measure. Enda and co. will have a very tough job turning this situation around because they know that they have hit a very raw nerve with the voters this time. I don’t think they can possibly abolish Irish Water as it has cost close to a billion euro to set up, but a grand gesture or changes to other taxes will have to be made to make the people accept it. After a decent budget, the last thing the government should be doing is dampening consumer sentiment in the run up to Christmas, as retailers are desperately hoping for a lift in sales this year.
Speaking of Christmas, we have been busy gearing up for the festive season at ShelfLife HQ and have put together a comprehensive list of products that are going to be big-sellers this year. Have a read of our Christmas drinks feature on page 64 and our Christmas essentials feature on page 74 to ensure you have ordered the products that will see you enjoy a bumper season. Here’s hoping the Irish Water issue is settled before the Christmas shopping period starts in earnest.