It’s hard to believe it has been a week already since we went to the polls.
Since then much of the debate has centred on how the next Government will be formed. Will it be an historic coalition between Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil or will there be a minority government in place when the Dáil resumes next week?
No matter what happens expect water charges to continue to dominate the headlines when the 32nd Dáil convenes at Leinster House for the first time next Thursday.
The future of Irish Water has been up in the air for some time but has certainly gathered pace in the last few days.
There are suggestions that a new Government could scrap or park the controversial charges with reports as recently as today suggesting that “thousands” were cancelling payments until the matter was resolved.
With many more households having yet to pay at any point since the charges were introduced last year, it all doesn’t bode well for Irish Water.
On the flip side, there has been speculation that it could cost up to €7 billion to dissolve the utility and that doesn’t seem like something that is feasible at present. After all, even the most optimistic pre-election estimates of what the country would have to spend in the next five years settled on around €10 billion.
If the €7 billion cost is true, or at least there or thereabouts, dissolving Irish Water would mean little or no investment in services between now and 2021.
Of course, by people not paying bills it is already a real drain on the country’s finances.
One way or another the matter needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.
A compromise may well be the best solution.
It is no harm that there is now one body to oversee our water and sewerage needs but the execution of Irish Water has been a PR disaster.
The flat bills mean that one of its major initial aims, at promoting conservation, is irrelevant and it is clear that even so early in its lifespan that the utility needs reform.
As much as the bulk of the population would like to see Irish Water eradicated, it is unlikely to happen. The 166 TDs who descend on Leinster House next week cannot ignore the anger of the electorate though.
As things stand there is no real incentive for people to pay the next bill, never mind any outstanding ones.
Change is needed and something has to be done sooner rather than later.
Let us know your thoughts on the matter:
- Are you willing to pay the next Irish Water bill that comes your way?
- Are you up to date with payments as it is?
- Should Irish Water be scrapped?
- What can the new Government do as a best possible solution?