My Mother used to say, "Your lies will always catch up with you." Given the amount of lies and bullshit this coalition Government have tried to shovel our way regarding Irish Water, the only mystery is that it took so long to catch up with them.
This afternoon, as widely predicted, the Eurostat Agency was the one to expose the lies. In an effort to make themselves look good, the Government pulled a vulgar accountancy trick by pushing the set-up and running costs of Irish Water off the State's balance sheet. They crudely attempted to disguise it as a healthy independent company that mysteriously had access to nearly nine hundred million euros to spend instead of it being a billion a year liability which was never necessary.
But the bluff has been called. Eurostat has found that, there was considerable Government control over Irish Water, in particular over board appointments and operations including broad pricing parameters such as price caps for non-domestic users. In the local parlance that would read, "The imprint of big Phil Hogan's hobnail boot was discovered on the seat of the pants of anyone who was in receipt of a bung from the new company."
But there was more from Eurostat. They discovered, "The fact that Irish Water merely reorganizes previously non-market activity carried out by Local Government with Local Government assets being transferred to Irish Water and a large majority of Irish Water staff remaining Local Government employees." This is an example of yet more creative accounting from Enda's mandarins. Who owns what and who's employed by who became a game of 'pass the parcel.' The giggling lads are now discovering that serious Eurocrats don't play pass the parcel.
Eurostat went on to cite, "Significant and continuous Government funding for Irish Water mainly in the form of operational grants and capital funding," as another reason to call the bluff. One can only surmise that those euro-laddies over there must have asked any of our dogs in the street over here for them to come up with that well-known fact. Taxpayers were already paying for water here and always had been and the money to set-up Irish Water came from our Motor Tax, nearly ninety per cent of last year in fact. Like Anglo Irish, Noonan was "pulling figures out of his arse" and blustering his way forward with bullying and hectoring, much like Big Phil in fact.
Of course, Eurostat also points out the defects in the pricing policy, the fact that sales must cover at least fifty per cent of the production costs over a sustained period and the fact that the majority of households simply refuse to pay. In plain english our European masters are saying it didn't work, it is unsustainable and don't pull that trick ever again, (Paddy). You must be thinking the Government lads and lassies are red-faced today? They surely have their heads down in mortal embarrassment? Well, not a bit of it.
Brazen as you like, Noonan dismissed it all on the radio just now. In his infinite wisdom apparently, he had anticipated all of this Euro nonsense and had put the full cost of Irish Water back on the Government balance sheet previous to Eurostat. Well, that's what he said of course and the reason he said it was to assure us all that this calamity would not impact the goodies he plans to give us all at the forthcoming pre-election budget.
I don't believe a word of it though. The whole farce has been put off for the summer while they frantically scramble around for some half-believable story they can tell us in the autumn as to why the give-away budget has to cancelled. They'll probably blame Fianna Fail or the Shinners for it all.
Meanwhile though, the Government has most definitely been caught off-balance.