I have said it before and I'll say it again – democracy is dead.
If ever there was a symbol for this demise, it's Irish Water.
The camps are now firmly established. On one side are the people of Ireland and the elected local councils and on the other is the gubmint and the EU.
The people of Ireland have firmly stated that they do not want Irish Water or anything it stands for. Over a hundred thousand took to the streets recently and the protests continue on an almost daily basis. A million have failed to sign up for this extra tax, which out of a total of one and a half million is a considerable vote of rejection.
The Local Councils have also stated their opposition. Many have lodged votes of no confidence in Irish Water and many have demanded its disbandment altogether. While I don't have much confidence normally in our councils, I do concede that they are at least partially democratic, and are the nearest we have to democratic institutions.
On the other hand, the gubmint which is supposed to be democratic is sailing firmly against the storm of protests, and the will of the Irish People. It is firmly ignoring the protests and is hell bent on pushing this extra taxation down the throats of the taxpayer, and indeed even the people who are exempt from tax. "We are listening to the people" they cry and then produce proposals for lower rates of payment and some exemptions while steadfastly refusing to roll back the whole insidious scheme. This deliberate misinterpretation of the people's anger is the perfect illustration of their total lack of accountability and arrogance towards the democratic process.
The real reason they refuse to step back is twofold.
The first is that this is an additional revenue stream. We are already paying for our water trough taxation and VAT as per the Water Services Act 2007 which specifically lays aside funding from the public purse to pay for water services. If, as they claim this is all just a transfer of service providers then I would ask why our taxation is not being reduced to compensate for the new Irish Water tax. Instead, we are still being levied the same old taxes, VAT and duties but are being told to pay the new tax in addition.
The real reason for Irish Water though is a little more complicated. Basically it is part of a massive book-keeping scam. To put it in its simplest form, moving the liability for the provision of water services off the gubmint's books and into a private company makes Ireland appear to owe less than it actually does. This is supposed to appease the financial markets who are presumably intelligent enough to see through the scam, but this is what the EU demands, so this is what the EU gets.
So on balance, who does the gubmint obey? The Irish people who want the whole miserable [and extremely expensive] scam scrapped? Or are they only obeying the dictats of the EU?
It's a three card trick, and the people lose every time.