Left running - Issue of water charges

IRISH WATER continues to be — at least politically — the most toxic public utility in Ireland, creating more division and more angst than any other service, the health service included. It still has the ability to make or break governments and politicians of all hues have been anxious to put the issue to bed, once and for all.

The report of the expert commission has recommended that every household get a free allowance of water that covers their ordinary domestic needs and only have to pay for excessive use of the service.

The ‘excessive use’ criterion is clearly designed to avoid penalties under the EU water directive which insists on a charging regime while mollifying those opposed to water charges in any form.

It is unlikely to achieve either goal. The commission’s recommendations are a fudge, plain and simple.

Without a government courageous enough to insist that, like electricity and gas, it must be paid for, this issue, like many leaking household taps, will keep running.

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