Water charges may be an issue on streets up and down the country, but as far as much of the farming community is concerned, it seems they are no big deal.
Survey results show 61% of those questioned said they did not have issue with water charges, with the ICMSA claiming the difference in attitude between urban and rural dwellers indicated a city/country divide.
Some 32% said they disagreed with water charges, while one fifth said they strongly disagreed with the notion that they did not have a problem with charges.
Those under 34 were more likely to take issue with the charges, as were those working in tillage: Just 37% of respondents working in that sector said they had no issue with water charges, as opposed to 66% working in dairy and 60% of those working with livestock.
Those with an off-farm income were also slightly more likely to not have an issue with the charges, at 62%, as opposed to the 59% of those working exclusively on a farm who said they were unperturbed by water charges.
ICMSA president John Comer said: “Farmers will look on the acrimonious row going on in relation to water charges with bemusement. We have been paying for our water for decades — whether through local schemes or having to sink our own well.
“It is frankly amusing to see people living in suburbs and cities roaring that water is a human right and must, therefore, be free. Nobody said it was a human right and must be free when we were paying for our supply for 40 or 50 years. As soon as the bill popped through a letter box in Dublin or Cork, paying for water became a national issue.
“When it was just people living ‘in the sticks’ nobody gave a damn. The water issue and the gap it has highlighted between the attitude of the rural population and the urban/suburban sectors is hugely revealing.
“The rural population doesn’t get anything like the same level of State services and the little we do get —Garda barracks, post offices, small local schools, local district courts, district veterinary offices — we seem to be losing. We’ve never been under the illusion that you turn a tap and — magically — water comes out because we had to arrange our own water supply. That’s why most farmers’ attitude to the water charges question is amused irritation.”
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