From the personal journal of Basil Miller
YOU HAVE TO PREPARE FOR THESE THINGS.
That’s what I’m telling myself as I contemplate the mobilisation tomorrow.
Tomorrow is 10 December 2014. From the early hours, all over Ireland busses and trains are filling with people. Cars are crammed full as the pooling system set up by local groups gears up for the journey.
Banners are rolled, placards packed, supplies fill the backpacks. Cameras and fancy smartphones have been charged.
It is a truly momentous occasion. Historic, even.
And it’s all down to water. The true elixir of life, as essential as the air we all breathe. I tell myself, you could live for as long as 70 days without food — but with no water, you’d be dead before the week is out.
By now we all know the background. A simple notion that very few people would have a problem with in principle — that water should be charged for — has divided a people from a nation’s government as no other issue in the past six years of grim, grinding soul-destroying austerity.
I’ve paid water charges. I paid them in the Netherlands when I lived there many years ago. That was no biggie. I understood. In a country where much of it lies below sea level, and three of Europe’s biggest rivers annually threaten to overflow the system of dykes, it is very costly, and complicated, to ensure both flood control and clean, safe drinking water.
Water is so important in the Netherlands that it has its own many-tentacled organisation, the Rijkswaterstaat, and has had for centuries. It is seen as a state within a state, and one which no invader has ever dared interfere with or try to administer, so complex are its functions and so arcane its expertise. And the people trust it.
But here in Ireland, I will not pay a cent to Irish Water. Like hundreds of thousands of us, I do not trust this entity. I do not trust the motives behind it. I do not trust the government that set it up. I do not trust the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the Troika, or the vulture corporations hovering in the background ready to pick over our dwindling incomes when they can get their hands on Irish Water through privatisation.
In any case, I’ve paid for my water already. A lifetime of income tax. Special increases in VAT and motoring taxes which were, I was told, destined to upgrade, repair and improve our water supplies and their quality — but instead were diverted elsewhere.