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We must bury the water fiasco
The minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s remarks last week on the water charges fiasco were very apt when he referred to them as ‘The Dead Cat’.
In 2014 the then minister for environment Phil Hogan put the cart before the horse when he rammed legislation through the Dáil without first having proper debate on the whole issue. Then he compounded the issue by installing water meters before fixing the leaking pipes. It’s estimated these leaking pipes account for 40% of water wastage.
Phil is now long gone to fresher EU pastures, but alas he left us with one hell of a mess in ‘The Dead Cat’. And if it’s dead, it should be buried.
The Government should now refund the good people who paid these now defunct water charges in the form of a credit note which in return can be offset against Government charges. Universal Social Charge funds could be used to first fix the water leaks and for work on water treatment plants, etc.
Most reasonable people realise how important clean water is and would be more than willing to play their part when they see the Government acting with propriety and equality. When these works are completed, only then should charges for excessive water usage be considered
Now is the time and not next March for all political parties and the Government to stop making a political football out of Phil Hogan’s fiasco on the water issue. If it takes a general election to decide this issue it will be a painful affair for politicians.
Bury this political football now and get on with governing our country. We all need to work together in finding solutions to the difficulties facing our country as we live through these challenging times of world unrest with economic and environmental uncertainty.
Jobs needed — and not just for cities
We see evidence today in this country of employment growing in some of our cities, particularly Dublin, but this country needs employment in more than just its cities.
We need to cut poverty fast in rural Ireland before it becomes a wilderness, we need to transform our national economy and prioritise smart rural development policies, investments and institutions.
We need to look at the different pathways of structural and rural transformation, how the different pathways affect rural poverty reduction and social-economic inclusion and, above all, what the policy makers can do to stimulate and support inclusive transformation.
Rural transformation is an employment generator.
Farming, non-farm rural employment, ie agricultural services, processing, distribution and logistics, natural resources exploitation, fishing, tourism services, and temporary migration all provide job opportunities and can foster economic growth.
All pose challenges for the poorest and least skilled who are often women and disadvantaged groups.
Today, high levels of informal employment are most likely to persist in rural Ireland as it can only be seen as a poor developing economy so creating jobs in rural Ireland is now as important as spurring growth in Dublin.
We must invest in rural Ireland, technology, infrastructure, social protection and strong institutions. Energy has to be a main priority as it is a huge blocking feature in any development in rural Ireland.
We as indigenous peoples in rural Ireland have the right to full employment as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognised in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Human Rights Law.
I sincerely hope that the Government will immediately set the wheels in motion to create a new Rural Transformation Policy in consultations with the stakeholders which can only become a most powerful employment generator.
(Chairman Rural Ireland Matters)
Ecocide on cards for National Park
Killarney National Park is on the brink of ecocide. An ecological disaster is taking place in the first national park to be established in the State. One of the world’s oldest oak forests is slowly dying. The rhododendron infestation and increased deer population across the region has not been adequately tackled.
The infestation is now out of control. It is annihilating native flora and preventing new native species of oak, etc, from growing. Nothing short of calling in the Army to break the back of the problem will suffice.
At the COP 13 UN Biodiversity Conference now taking place in Cancun, Mexico, until December 17, the more than 190 countries attending have been requested to ramp up actions to protect biological diversity. A number of countries have adopted the Cancun Declaration. The Declaration represents an unprecedented recognition from the international community that biodiversity protection must involve different governmental and economic sectors and not just the environmental ministries.
Today we are seeing mass damage and destruction to the environment and people’s lives on a scale that has never been seen before in history. This sort of destruction is seriously impacting the natural world — the source of life. Our planetary boundaries (ie, safe operating space for humanity) on a number of fronts, for example, biological diversity, have already been crossed. Other planetary boundaries includes ‘land use’, ‘fresh water use’ and ‘biogeochemical flows’. The more we cross our planetary boundaries the greater the threat to our survival by making Earth less inhabitable.
Just Forests are now calling on the Government to put the necessary financial and legal instruments in place to make the proper removal of rhododendron from every garden, hedge row, field, forest and woodland in this area compulsory as a matter of urgency. We are calling for an Invasive Species Action Plan For Kerry & Cork Region. The objectives of the plan is to eradicate rhododendron and control the spread of existing invasive alien species (IAS) and to prevent any new IAS from becoming established in the Kerry/Cork region.
The real value of biodiversity to tourism, agriculture, fisheries and the forestry sectors in Ireland is priceless and beyond question. It is now time to act and give the next generation the security of a functioning and healthy natural world before it’s too late. It is not unusual for small states around the world to deploy their armies to act in the public interest — now is such a time for Ireland.
Every breath you take will cost dearly
It appears to me that Vertex’s Pharmaceuticals the makers of the drug Orkambi, used to treat cystic fibrosis, could use Sting’s most popular hit as their theme song; of course they would have to change the words of the song to: “Every breath you take I’ll be charging you”.
Legacy of ‘Manuel’ will never die
The sad passing of Andrew Sachs — famous for his role as the hapless Spanish waiter Manuel from Fawlty Towers — closes a chapter on another comic genius.
Himself, and John Cleese alias, Basil Fawlty the mad hotel owner, had such tremendous acting chemistry together.
Manuel’s catchphrase — “I know nothing” — which always drove Basil mental was brilliant comedy. Basil tried so hard to patronise his hotel guests, when Manuel got a bit confused with English he would reply to an order with ‘Qué?’ Basil would reply. “I’m so sorry, he’s from Barcelona”.
In one of my favourite episodes, ‘The Kipper and the Corpse’, one of the hotel’s guests dies in his sleep but Basil doesn’t really notice and just goes about his business, delivering the man’s breakfast to his room and then complaining that he was rude and didn’t thank him. Polly soon realises he is dead and Sybil asks another guest, Dr Price, to attend to the situation. Basil thinks the out of date kippers he served the man for breakfast were the cause, not knowing he’s been dead most of the night.
Pandemonium sets in when Basil and Manuel try to remove the body without any of the guests knowing what has happened. Eternally classic comedy.
The wonderful Andrew Sachs has departed to his well deserved eternal rest. However, his legacy of Manuel will never die. And anytime I am asked what life is all about? I will borrow Manuel’s apt description. “I Know Nothing”.
The term recovery has a hollow ring
More and more people are now left homeless due to a combination of the actions of the banks and loss of jobs meant many people were unable to pay their mortgages.
The banks have placed many of theses distressed loans in receivership and thousands of home owners have been brought before the courts by the bankers.
Many homeowners have been evicted — just like the penal times — as a result of the banks; these are the same banks that us as taxpayers were forced to bail out to the tune of €64 billion due to the mismanagement of our country by politicians following the crash.
We are far worse off now than ever before.
There has been a reported increase of 50% of people sleeping rough on our streets and Cork’s Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has run out of cash due to the increased demand on its services; this makes the term of recovery ring hollow indeed.
Politicians should hand over their €5,000 wage increase to SVP who do great work.
Celebrating 100 years of great deeds
I see that the great Irish economic Spartacus, Thomas Kenneth (TK) Whitaker celebrated his 100th birthday on Thursday (December 8).
Seems to me that the world could do with a few new leaders with the values and intellect of our Irish Spartacus.
The other iconic Spartacus, Kirk Douglas, is also 100 this week.
Many happy returns Mr Whitaker and Mr Douglas.
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