Bringing more clarity to the water tax

Bringing more clarity to the water tax

Exercise more. Wear your seat belt. Cook your food properly. Don’t litter. Many question whether the lavish public awareness campaigns we see on TV and press stating the blatantly obvious aren’t just an utter waste of taxpayer’s money. They’re really a way for quangos to justify their existence, and feed their public relations agencies. And it all smacks of the nanny state gone mad. So they contend.

Events of the past month should cause them to reconsider this view. Fine Gael’s Fergus O’Dowd (who helped set up Irish Water)  struck a blow for the public relations industry when he attributed much of the flak and resistance to water charges to Irish Water’s failure to win over the public to the concept of paying for water. I think he has a point. The entire episode has been noticeable for the absence of a public awareness campaign about why paying for water is a good idea. I may be wrong, but all I recall seeing was a turgid registration booklet tersely advising how I sign up for the charge, and requesting my PPS number. No talk of the reasons behind a water charge, or of how we need to conserve the most precious asset we have on earth.

A water tax will never be welcomed, and Irish Water as an organisation and brand has clearly got off to a spluttering start. I’m not alone in having no objection to paying for water in principle. But I would like to have been told how the money is being spent, and how this tax will ensure this precious resource is secured for the future. This was surely one instance where investing in bringing the public on-side might have paid dividends.   PR sceptics take note!