So, moving on from the debacle that is Irish Water, there are now calls for a constitutional amendment to make sure that Irish Water can’t be privatised.
This is idiocy of the highest order and it is not what the constitution was designed for. Although to be fair, it’s hardly new to abuse the constitution to try and prevent legislation some people don’t like so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.
Irish Water is now a completely poisonous mess; not because many thousands of people marched in the streets on Saturday; it was a mess before that.
So, what needs to be changed to fix it? Well in the real world, the one inhabited by the people who vote and are supposed to pay this, it’s possible that it cannot, at this point in time, be fixed in such a way as it can start charging.
Here’s what I wouldn’t have done.
- I wouldn’t have hired John Tierney.
- I wouldn’t have allowed Irish Water to have access to PPS numbers.
- I would have had a lower flatrate per 1000L charge and no messing with household and children’s allowances.
- I would not have panicked and implemented a tax credit.
- I would not have panicked and talked about 100E rebates.
- I would not have done an about turn on household allowances if people don’t fill in the form. I’m not in favour of the allowances but if someone is going to be determined to implement them, they should be house related.
- I wouldn’t have given Phil Hogan the nomination for Ireland’s representative on the European Commission. But it’s fair to say I wouldn’t have done that anyway.
Here’s what I would do now.
Right now, the problem with Irish Water is NOT the risk of privatisation; it flatly doesn’t matter if it is or not because regardless, the problem is how usage charges were implemented, which is basically with all the finesse of an approaching fireball. Damage everywhere.
Updating the constitution really should be for key visionary changes in how we want this country to operate. Being nice to people. Banning capital punishment. It really shouldn’t be a political football used by one or other organisation, like SIPTU or the Labour Party, to stymy administration.
Fixing the problems with Irish Water now will be reputationally difficult but sometimes, hard decisions have to be taken. Fine Gael keep telling us that so it’s about time they learned that reality as well.
Irish Water, as is, needs to be abandoned. Closed down. Liquidated. It has cost money and it will cost money. But there is no way of fixing this.
Blundering on with a bad product without having the guts to deal with the reality of it being a bad product closes down companies as they throw good money after bad.
And maybe then, we can start from scratch and do it properly and efficiently.