Politics, it is said, is the art of the possible. Under pressure to pay back the interest on the loans imposed on us by Europe and under obligation to the electorate to continue to provide public services, the last government panicked.
First came a new tax on property ownership. Traditionally the Government took the entire tax on your property in one go at point of purchase. However, this "Stamp Duty," as it is called, is still in operation so the new property charge is a double taxation.
Then came the income tax scam. The income tax used to go into the general taxation pot that covered public services. Then they invented an added tax called Pay-Related-Social-Insurance. Note that at the time income tax rates did not go down as a result but the new PRSI just came into being as a double taxation. But backs to the wall, the last Government introduced treble taxation. The new pay-related scam was called "Universal Social Charge," (USB), and it was peddled to us as just a few bob extra in these straightened times.
Then they came for our water supply. Big Phil Hogan began decimating local services by withdrawing funding from many good causes. Then this boorish giant, ignoring loud protests from all quarters, went ahead and set up Irish Water, (badly). Having made a right royal bollox of everything, Big Phil was rewarded with a Commission Seat at the top table in the EU. The jury is still out on that one but wise punters are putting their money on the possibility that they had to get that big embarrassment out of the public eye, so they hid him in Europe.
Then cue public revolt, wide-spread refusal to pay, public protests and even violent incidents in some cases. Despite the official avalanche of snow and bullshit, the public wouldn't wear it. Scandal after scandal emerged weekly about the sinful waste of money at the newly formed resource. To coin a phrase, Irish Water were pissing away our money like there was no tomorrow. Added to that, the inept Government tried to sneakily hide the outlay for Irish Water by removing it from the National Books but eagle eyes in Europe spotted the deception and ordered that changed. The issue became so big in the public perception that it destroyed any lingering credibility that Government had with the inevitable consequence come election time.
But all of that was just the downpour because now comes the flooding. The general election voting was so scattered that no majority was possible and traditional enemies are nervously rubbing shoulders in the new shaky government. Having promised to suspend water charges before the election they then vacillated a while before suspending them for nine months. Using the uneasy truce, they then turned to us all and in one voice said that the EU insisted water be charged for under the 'polluter pays' policy. Like most EU policies though, there are exceptions to the rule called derogations. Ireland had a derogation on water taxation and when that was discovered the attitude of the public hardened.
Be the shysters in Government weren't leaving it at that. They acknowledged the derogation clause but maintained that it wasn't taken up at the right time so the rule on water tax applied to us under something called “Established practice”. They claimed that if it was the established practice in your country to charge for water then that was the end of the matter – you had to cough up.
I have said many times before that when dealing with the devious political classes, the devil is always in the detail. Lynn Boylan MEP dropped the bombshell by letting us know that, "The European Commission has never made any official statements asserting that Ireland abolishing direct water charges would be in breach of the water framework directive," and you'd have to say, she'd know all about it. But there's more. Lynn then explains that, "The European Commission is already on record as stating that it considers “established practices” to be those practices which were “an established practice at the time of adoption of the directive”. This directive was adopted on October 23rd, 2000, and transposed into Irish law in 2003, when it is beyond doubt that Ireland used general taxation as its established practice."
The fuckers in Leinster House were wringing their hands and telling us, "Sorry, charging for water is established practice lads so it isn't our fault but that of the big, bad EU." But all along, of course, they knew the truth themselves and were just trying to bullshit us because they think we just fools. Lynn Boylan clarifies the issue for us though. "It is beyond doubt that if the Irish Government so wishes, it can still use the derogation and justify its use in its river basin management plans, as has been done and is still being done by so many other European regions and countries. In light of all the above, it is clear that certain commentators and politicians have distorted the debate by misconstruing or embellishing what the European Commission has put on record regarding the derogation from water pricing in the water framework directive. Worse, it is also clear that many of those same politicians are deliberately twisting this clear, unequivocal situation and using it as an excuse not to avail of the derogation, which gives the Irish Government the final say in deciding on water charges."
'Misconstruing or embellishing' my arse. It is straight up fraud in my opinion. To add weight to Lynn's views, so eloquently put in her Irish Times letter,
The signatories were:
Lynn Boylan MEP
Martina Anderson MEP
Matt Carthy MEP
Liadh Ni Riada MEP
Luke Ming Flannagan MEP
Nessa Childers MEP
Marian Harkin MEP
That's seven current MEP's from this country sitting in the very parliament our shaky Government is seeking to blame for the mess.
Incredibly though, the story doesn't end there. More sleight of hand came in the form of a commission to explore charging for water. In this context, a commission is a group of people entrusted by a government, or other official body, with authority to do something. I suggest the doing of something means recommending water charges. But naturally they have been advertised to us as unbiased experts with no axe to grind. The idea being planted in the public mind is that a full and fair examination of all aspects of the problem will be deliberated over by the finest un-impeachable minds that money can buy and then critically, their utterly fair findings will form public policy and become law. Of course, Simon Coveney let the cat out of the bag almost immediately by announcing that, "The Government will use the nine-month suspension of water charges to try to “create acceptance” among citizens as to how best to pay for water." He went further when he said, "“But there are lots of things we can do to create acceptance across Ireland in terms of managing and paying for water appropriately. We now have a process that is about to begin to make that happen.”
So we're being softened up for the big stick next year, unless the commission recommends otherwise. But then if you have a look at the hand-picked commission members you can easily see why these people were picked.
Their recommendations are a foregone conclusion, have no doubt about that. If you have any last hopes that fairness will break out then you haven't been keeping up to date with 'the thoughts of Chairman Joe O'Toole.
This former trade union chief says he is a firm believer in the ‘polluter pays’ principle, or water charges to give it it's correct name. Of course the same bold Joe has been gorging from the elite's trough for years and can't see past his piggy nose. In interview he asks, If it is fair in society that people with three cars and a swimming pool pay the same water tax as someone, a person who is barely struggling on a minimum wage.” I reckon Joe regularly mixes with the three-car, swimming pool brigade so his knowledge there is first hand. But his mention of the minimum wage outfit is probably some vague memory of a mention he heard at some meeting.
However, Joe knows where the "Big Stick" is kept. According to the Irish Examiner, "The former ICTU president said the commission, likely to hold hearings in the autumn, would ask Revenue to examine the collection of water charges." Even worse though is his suggestion to privatize Irish Water. This bloated gent went on to say, "It will be examining what pay model to support Irish Water. One option could be to “try and convince somebody to buy an Irish Water bond." How's that for concluding your findings before you've even examined the complex issues?
I predict 2017 will be a time of civil unrest in Ireland with this howler at the top of the list. The big flood has been pushed out to next year and it may become the very last platform of freedom that ordinary people will ever have. The flood I refer to is the flood of bills through your letterbox presaging hard times ahead for all opus if we don't act. "Joe O’Toole should resign over water charge comments, says Paul Murphy," but that is only the first salvo. Keep your wits about and get ready for civil war without the guns. Oh! and bin charges will become another problem too.