Why Irish Water Will Be Sold Off (first published on indymedia.ie June 2014)
Call me a cynic, but I am absolutely convinced that the current Irish government has created Uisce Éireann (Irish Water) with the sole purpose of selling Ireland’s water rights to the private sector within the next decade.
Already Uisce Éireann has wasted over €80 million euro in consultancy fees paid to the private sector and it will continue to use private sector contractors to carry out its work, at as yet unknown cost. It is only the fact that it would be political suicide for the government right now that prevents a share issue in the near future.
So why would the government consider such a crazy and reckless thing as to sell our most vital national resource, that belongs to the people of Ireland, to any takers? If one looks at other industries – oil, gas and forestry for example the current and previous governments have been quite happy to play into the hands of corporate interests, quite obviously against the national interest. Only because of public embarrassment has there been any back-pedalling on handing over the nation’s resources for next to nothing to corporate vultures.
Given the nonchalance of this and previous governments, it should not be a surprise if we find that Uisce Éireann is up for sale in a few years, after all the current fuss over water metering has died down. Sure, the government knows that a week is a long time in politics and given enough time elapsed people quickly forget – thus allowing all manner of nefarious schemes to go ahead unchecked.
If we look at water in a wider context – it is fast becoming a commodity to equal oil in value and so the big banks and mega corporations of the world are all clambering to get in on the next growth industry. A recent article from zerohedge.com (1) highlights increased interest in the water industry as the world moves towards ‘Peak Water’, or rather increased demand for a dwindling supply of fresh accessible water.
This process of diversifying into water has already begun, as documented by globalreseach.ca website (2,3). No doubt banks and corporations looking to invest in water will be keeping a close eye on Ireland, in the hope of snagging a bargain at the expense of the Irish tax-payer.
Ireland, as we all know, has a temperate climate with high annual rainfall, which means that we actually have a surplus of water most years. Unfortunately for the government, because our water system is so antiquated a massive percentage of our water is either not collected (not enough reservoirs) or lost through poorly maintained infrastructure, hence Uisce Éireann is not profitable.
At the moment Uisce Éireann has no track record, the repair work to be paid for by us taxpayers has yet to be done. However, in a year or two there will most likely be a healthy balance sheet when the infrastructure has been upgraded out of the massive income received through billing the country’s citizens for the right to drink and wash.
At such point when Uisce Éireann is making a handsome profit the government will no doubt be encouraged by the IMF and EU to sell it off to help pay off Ireland’s staggering national debt (4) (currently approx imately €179bn euro and rising).
It would make more sense to put the profits from Uisce Éireann into further improvements and national debt repayments, rather than sell off the company, although both FF and FG are more interested in placating big business, the banks especially, than they are interested in serving the people that vote them in.
Sadly Ireland is controlled by largely concealed corporate interests who pull the puppet strings of our politicians. So when I read the headlines in a few years – ‘Uisce Éireann to become a PLC’ or similar, it will be entirely unsurprising. What worries me most is that people in this country cannot see that this is the most likely outcome and have still not realised that the concerns of the electorate mean nothing to most of the members of Dáil Éireann.