The leader of one of the country’s main farm organisations says that despite all the debate about water charges, one group has paid — and continues to pay — for water.
And that, says ICMSA President John Comer is the rural community, particularly farmers, who are in group schemes or have sank their own wells.
Mr. Comer says it’s very difficult not to become cynical when one considers the fact that, for decades prior to the first mention of general water charges, farmers and other rural dwellers had paid for their water without a word of complaint.
Nor did they expect it was the State’s function to provide that service.
It was very striking, says Mr. Comer, that it only became the State’s function to provide water to every household on the basis that it was a ‘Human Right’ when there was talk of urban and suburban householders having to pay for water.
No-one had mentioned this right when rural communities had to fund and invest and maintain their own water schemes for the decades.
As far as his farmer-members were concerned, he says every single time that the interests of rural Ireland ran counter to what were deemed to be the preferences of the urban or suburban counterparts, then the ‘country people’ lost and with very little fuss or apology.
He insists the farmer-members of ICMSA will now actually be paying ‘on the double’ for water.
They’ll continue to pay for their own water – as they always have done, he says, but they can now look forward to paying through general taxation for the water used by that sector
The question rural communities are now asking is how the Government intends to fund the cost of water provision in rural areas?
Mr Comer says if urban and suburban households are going to get free water, then so should rural dwellers — and he has called on the Government to set out its policy on this matter.