We run the risk of being boring but feel it is important to focus attention and zone in on some highly significant events in the long saga of the Irish 'Water Charges' controversy. The events we will highlight here and in future articles are; 1) The Water Framework Directive-2000/60/EC', 2) Ireland's River Basin Management Plan, 3) Article 9.4, the Irish Exemption, 4) The Water Services Act 2013 and 5) EU/IMFBank Bailout of 2010.
Because of the relevance of these events and how the Government and EU bureaucrats interpret and use them, one would think that the anti water charges' campaign leaders would delve into these cornerstones of Irish and EU Water Policies. For whatever reason they are not. The Government and pro 'Water Charges' lobby are being allowed set the agenda, pick and choose selective interpretations, misrepresent events and rely on secrecy.
They should not be let them off the hook easily. Instead their versions of facts must be countered, historical inaccuracies highlighted and political intrigues and revisionism exposed. Like the sleeked, slimy, two faced, greedy shopkeeper and publican, Tom Ryan, in Ryan's Daughter, we are being duped into thinking that politicians and individuals are on our side when in fact these very same erstwhile supporters are pursuing their own agenda whether it be party opportunism or personal aggrandisement.
Despite what any Minister, EU bureaucrat or IMF/EU Troika official say the fact remains that the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC and Article 9.4 of the directive is in force today and our water policy is being driven by the first cycle of the River Basin Management Plan, the main stipulation in the Water Framework Directive. No amount of political juggling or threats can change this. How can anyone have plans and agreements if they do not stick to them?
Not only should the anti water charge movement to try to find out the truth about the events, it should also hold to account all those who have made the water issue a political football for the past forty years. This dogged pursuit by the political elite, the EU bureaucrats and international financiers has been relentless. It is hard to accept the hypocrisy of sidestepping the democratic wish of the Irish people that our water resource should belong to the people of Ireland and funded through general taxation. What is just as hard to accept is the belief that politicians seem to have that their actions, misrepresentations, rhetoric and even lies are acceptable, their reason being that it's the nature of politics.
Buncrana Together have written quite a bit already on the above events (search our archives for Water Framework Directive or 9.4 exemption), however, we feel there is much more to come out and that the anti water chargescampaign has lost focus or worse led down the garden path. We are being fooled into thinking that 'Water Charges is as good as abolished'. Indeed the charges have been suspended but only until Minister Coveney's hand picked 'Independent Commission on Domestic Water Charges' reports back sometime after November this year, after which a vote will be taken on the issue in the Dáil. Members of Fianna Fáil are the biggest culprits in spreading this line. However, what they do not tell about are events that are happening behind the scenes, events like the second cycle of the River Basin Management Plan. We say never mind what you might do next year, what are you doing now? We have asked Fianna Fáil what is their position on the Water Framework Directive, the River Basin Management Plan and the 9.4 Exemption. To date we have had no reply.
It is one thing for politicians and EU bureaucrats to manipulate facts, to act in secret, ignore citizens. We have, somehow, got used to this political chicanery. However it is another thing altogether when those on the side of the anti water charges' campaign also ignore seemingly vital events. The Right2Water Trade Union assumed leaders have also ignored requests for explanations and to concentrate on the Water Framework Directive, the River Basin Management Plan and the 9.4 Exemption. In doing so they are allowing the pro water charges' camp, (and maybe not pro camps), to dictate the agenda and use selective propaganda without being questioned. It is a case of 'Nero fiddled while Rome burned'.
River Basin Management Districts
Would it surprise you know that right at this moment the Government the Irish River Basin Management Districts are actively engaged in drafting the second stage of the River Basin Management Plan?
What is so significant about this second cycle River Basin Management Plan, is that it will be Ireland's de facto Water Policy into the future. If it is allowed to continue, unopposed, it will include 'Pricing Policy', including domestic water charges, 'Metering' and the entity and structure of Irish Water Ltd will be firmly entrenched. It will quietly ignore the 9.4 Exemption and our long established practice of Water Policy will end. The new River Basin Management Plan will become part of EU Water Policy, signed sealed and delivered.
No matter what some may lead you to believe now, when the time comesand all the plans are put in placethe same political parties and individualwho told us to have faith, will wash their hands of it and say 'the decision has already been made'.