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Water charge anger shows politicians need to start listening

As tempting as it is to belittle the water balloon incident (and credit to Minister Burton for her dignified response in such circumstances), it would be very wrong for the Government or political class — which includes the journalists — to sneer at those who throw water balloons and to deliberately misunderstand what such incidents mean.

The fact some people felt so angry, so disconnected from the political process, that they felt their only option was to throw a water balloon, or even worse a brick, means those people no longer have any trust in the State to respond to their needs.

The political class have no concept of what it’s like to get a water bill, even if it’s €200, when you have €0 in the bank or of the sheer drudgery of living week to week literally counting every single cent, so they genuinely don’t get it.

Kenny, Noonan, Howlin, Varadkar and the rest will all pass their water charges through their tax free expenses so the amount is of no significance to them.

But the political class, including the media, would do well to stop to think that such public responses stems from the anger and frustration people feel that despite their sacrifices for the last six years, nothing has changed for them, as they struggle to feed, clothe and house their families.

Then to add salt to their wounds, they are lectured to by a President, Taoiseach and Ministers who continue to pay themselves basic salaries, before expenses, far in excess of their equivalents in much larger countries and they are also patronised by some journalists who don’t incur PAYE tax because of their self-employed status, telling them their anger is inappropriate because really they should know their place.

So instead of focusing attention on the juvenile water balloon and wrapping themselves in the clock of denial, so beloved of the Irish, maybe the chattering and establishment classes, who think they won’t be affected by rising anger, need to start thinking through the consequences if those angry people actually do go and vote in the coming general election.

They don’t need to win the election, they just need to win more seats than their centre right and hard right counterparts.

Desmond FitzGerald

Canary Wharf

London

England


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