Our longest ever period without a government is happening at the worst possible time

The election, the basis for the formation of government happened nearly nine weeks ago and yet negotiations drag on.

Since then we have been running on dry with a caretaker government which includes members who are no longer TDs.

This is the longest period we have ever been without a government and it’s happening at the worst possible time.

To put it mildly, the world economy is in a state of chassis.

Our closest neighbour and one of our biggest trading partner is facing a referendum on whether it stays in the EU or not.

So what has held up government formation? Arithmetic is the answer.

Independents and smaller parties; left wing and otherwise, coupled with a resurgent Sinn Féin make up a sizeable minority of the elected members.

The pressure has been on both Fine Gael with around 50 seats and Fianna Fáil with 43 to coalesce, in the so-called national interest.

However, these parties have been adversaries for almost 100 years.

In addition, for the first time in our history, we would have a left — right parliamentary divide with parties of the right or centre in power and parties of the left on the opposition benches.

This, in the view of some, based on observations of the UK’s economy over the years, would not augur well for our nation’s future or for its economy.

There is one further stumbling block and that is both parties have somewhat opposing views on the existence of Irish Water and probably to a lesser extent on the need to charge for water.

To a large extent, it’s this last issue that is causing the biggest obstacle to Fianna Fáil supporting, or rather facilitating, Enda Kenny’s ascendency to the throne he just vacated.

For Mr Kenny, it’s a very difficult choice. His options were to either stick to his guns by fully supporting Irish Water and water charges or find an acceptable compromise to meet Fianna Fáil’s needs, as it appears has happened. Whether his offer will be enough we will really have to wait and see.

Despite what we are told, we are not a sophisticated electorate.

It’s an unfortunate reality that he who offers the most goodies gets the most votes. Very many of us can be bought time and again.

In doing so we are doing ourselves no favours.

Water is one of the most basic necessities of life. As our world’s population grows and its appetite broadens, water is fast becoming a scarce commodity.

Those on the east coast are well aware that during dry summer months, drought peers over the horizon. Plans are afoot to bring water from the Shannon to satisfy Dublin’s demands.

Who do we think will pay for the considerable cost of this major enterprise?

The EU is not playing sugar daddy to us anymore. We’ve taken, and taken, and now it’s time to pay back.

In excess of 47% of the water we treat and put back into the network is lost through leaks. The reasons are simple. Short-termism is rife.

The care of our fresh water and waste water systems were put on the long finger time and again.

It’s time to get our act together.

It’s clear that we will only conserve water if we pay for it, but because of our negligence, the water system is in dire straits. Historically, we are all to blame because of the state of the system. It’s time to put up or shut up and that means all of us.

They say that if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. The establishment of Irish Water was an utter fiasco — badly thought out, badly structured, badly staffed and subsequently badly marketed to prospective unwilling payees.

It has to be restructured and staffed but only after it’s properly planned and its mission clearly defined.

Undoubtedly there are good parts — there always are, even in the worst organisations.

It’s up to Mr Kenny to bite the bullet and get a deal over the line. The alternative may well signal his waterloo.

A second election will ensue where those opposing water charges might do even better and then where would we be?


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