Progressive forces must unite to promote the common good

Politics in our world has caught up with the economics of austerity and tens of millions of people are rejecting neoliberal orthodoxy.

The citizens of the UK voted to leave the EU and those of the US have elected the most openly far-right President in modern history. We have also seen the dramatic rise of the Front National in France and xenophobic nationalism in several developed northern and central European countries while blatant neo-fascism has re-emerged as a significant force in Eastern Europe. Notwithstanding the rejection of neo-liberalism, these are not progressive developments.

It is not the first time that tens of millions of working people and those rendered hopeless by the impact of austerity have lurched into the embrace of their deadliest enemies. We all know the lessons of the tragic history of the Europe of the 1930s. It is only in those countries where the Left has been able to present a united front, that the agenda of the Right has been successfully challenged. This was graphically highlighted in the recent General Election in the UK. There, because of the first past the post electoral system, all those on the Left have been forced to stay together in the Labour Party, avoiding the endless splintering that afflicts us in many other countries.

As a consequence, and under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, a Democratic Socialist, uncontaminated by the compromises of the recent past, they were able to offer inspiration and hope to tens of millions of people, particularly among the young, on the basis of a solidly traditional Social Democratic manifesto. Similarly, in Portugal, the Socialist Party, supported by the Left Bloc and the Communist Party, has managed to continue to govern, gradually rolling back the damage inflicted by the austerity agenda, rebuilding the economy and offering hope again. In France and Spain and indeed in Greece, vibrantly electrifying new forces on the Left have emerged, but unfortunately, they are focused too much on the destruction of the traditional Socialist parties, thus leaving the field open to the Right.

Here in the Republic of Ireland we are still only emerging from the most serious economic collapse experienced in any developed country in the World since the Wall Street Crash of 1929. We in this Union, along with others in the Labour Movement, were forced to adopt a very difficult and unpopular rear-guard strategy to defend jobs, conditions and the basic social and economic infrastructure as much as possible.

We did not embrace that strategy lightly, or because we thought that one-sided austerity was fair or that it was a good idea, or that it was by any means the best way out of the crisis. We came to it only reluctantly, when we ultimately realised, that we were faced with overwhelming odds.

Then we did what any intelligent army does in those circumstances. It retreats a bit, erects whatever fortifications it can and organises behind them intending to re-take the ground lost when more fortuitous conditions develop. In short, when we were faced with the choice between making noise and making a difference – we chose to make a difference for working people. It wasn’t for the fainthearted!

In this regard, I want to emphatically reiterate our appreciation to all the thousands of shop stewards, activists and individual members who stood with the Union, whether they agreed with us or not, throughout what has been the most difficult period in our economic history. But we have been regaining ground. We have been winning pay increases across the private and commercial semi-state sectors. The process of pay restoration in the public service which began with the Lansdowne Road Agreement in the middle of 2015 has continued with its extension this year. We have also begun to utilise the provisions of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 to win pay increases, which are legally binding on the employers, across whole industries, as well as new recognition agreements in a number of individual companies.

The tax-cutting narrative reinforces deeply ingrained and carefully cultivated misconceptions of individual self-interest. However, it is not in our actual self-interest as individuals at all. It is not in any of our interests as individuals that young people have to pay multiples of the cost of building a house to put a roof over their heads, due to the absence of a properly funded public housing programme.

Neither is it in our interests as individuals that people have to waste their scarce resources paying ever-escalating private health insurance premiums, due to the absence of a properly funded public health service.

It is not in our interests as individuals, either, that people do not have access to the best education, training and re-skilling facilities in the world, due to the absence of a properly funded education system. And it is certainly not in our interests as individuals either, that the potential productivity and growth of our economy is compromised by inadequate public investment.

What’s actually being perpetrated under the guise of ‘promoting the incentive to work’ or ‘rewarding people’ is a different thing altogether. It’s the criminal degradation of our public services, in order to facilitate the wholesale robbery of the people by a veritable army of land hoarders, speculators, licensed drug peddlers and corporate money lenders! It’s time to wake up and smell the roses because instead of paying tax to fund our public services, together as a community, we’re actually ending up paying twice as much and more to these legalised bandits.

That is why we are advancing the proposition that all available resources should be focused on the primary national project of housing our people, caring for the young, the elderly and the ill, supporting our people with disabilities and educating, training and re-skilling our people in order to build a decent society for everyone who lives on the island of Ireland, between now and the centenary of the foundation of the State in 2022. This would be a laudable project around which we could mobilise as a people, and forget about cutting taxes until then.

The bottom line is that we must have decent public services and it is far better that we fund them together as a community, through taxation, rather than allowing ourselves to be ripped off by private predators. Those advocating tax cutting, which inevitably disproportionately benefits the better off, conveniently ignore the fact that Ireland’s public spending, as a share of gross national income, is joint bottom of the list of EU countries and one third less than the average EU member state.

There will be more finance available to the government from 2019 onwards after the structural deficit is eliminated but it will still not be enough to achieve the dramatic improvements required. We will also have to adopt a more flexible interpretation of the EU fiscal rules, as advocated by our own Union and indeed laterally even by the employers’ organisation IBEC. This would release somewhere between €4bn and €7bn over the next five years. Then there are the matters which are entirely and absolutely within our own control.

For example, there is absolutely no justification to go on gifting bad employers in the hospitality sector, a direct subsidy of €500m from the taxpayer through concessionary VAT rates which would build more than 2,500 local authority houses. They won’t even go into the Joint Labour Committees to negotiate a living wage for their employees, who are among the lowest paid in the country.

The wealthier generally will have to contribute more. For working people, the issue of the right to organise and bargain collectively is central to the success of our ambitious strategy for 2022. This is because collective bargaining takes place at the point at which the benefits of output are distributed and very often where the nature and character of jobs are designed.

The OECD estimates that we are the 3rd most unequal country in Europe, measured by market income. This is offset to some degree by the more progressive aspects of our tax system, but it is manifestly evident in the workplace.

Thanks to the efforts of the Labour Party, the 2015 Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act has progressed collective bargaining rights further than ever before in the history of the State. But, workers in Ireland still do not enjoy a constitutional entitlement to participate fully in collective bargaining with their employers. This will require a Constitutional Amendment. So, we will have to work with everyone who cares about workers, about equality, about low pay, about precarious work and exploitation, to press for a referendum to provide for the fundamental right to engage in collective bargaining for every worker in Ireland.

What we are promoting here in this comprehensive proposition for social progress, which is rooted in the values of social solidarity would serve as the kernel of a new relationship between all the people who inhabit this island, including those who are coming from elsewhere to pursue the hope of a better life along with us.

It would see us all enjoying a better future, framed in the context of the European community of nations, (but not in some kind of Federal Super State) and from that platform, we would all play our part as citizens of the world. It will be necessary to forge a new alliance of all the genuinely progressive forces on the island of Ireland who are committed to the primacy of the common good to realise this great aspiration.

Meanwhile, we will continue to work hard organising workers in Northern Ireland. Our membership there has been growing steadily for a number of years now. The trade union movement in both jurisdictions is also focused on ensuring that workers do not pay the price of Brexit – and we are all fully engaged to that end, working with our comrades across the entire island.

We must also continue to do whatever we can to extend support to those who are suffering the burden of oppression, injustice and exploitation throughout the world.

None of this is for the fainthearted. Nothing that’s worth achieving ever is! It involves rowing against the tide. As the custodians of the legacy of Connolly and Larkin, we must rise to this challenge and work together to win the battle for equality for everyone.

Jack O’Connor on public sector pay

Listen back to SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor discussing public sector pay

Full interview can be found here

SIPTU calls for immediate end to ‘free labour schemes’ such as JobBridge

SIPTU has called for an immediate end to JobBridge, and similar “free labour schemes”, following media revelations that a report by auditors in the Department of Social Protection has found that its monitoring system is unable to ensure its operation is not resulting in job displacement.

SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, said: “The results of this report, which were revealed in the media today (Sunday, 21st August), concerning the operation of the JobBridge Scheme should end the debate about continuing such ‘free labour schemes’. They must all be wound up immediately.

“No one should be surprised about the results of this report which confirm mounting anecdotal evidence concerning these schemes and a possible link to job displacement as well as other abuses. There may have been an argument for such schemes when unemployment was running at double digits but thankfully that is no longer the case.”

He added: “The sad truth is that there is an unscrupulous element among employers that will exploit any opportunity to turn a quick buck. They will strive to do this irrespective of whatever safeguards or monitoring is put in place concerning these schemes. They have no scruples about exploiting workers, conning the taxpayer or competing unfairly with other businesses.

“The only way to combat such abuse is to wind up all these schemes as it can no longer be argued that they are in any way required. In the case of the public sector, where the Government has direct control, all those currently employed on such schemes should be offered direct employment given the country’s much improved economic circumstances.”

A Trade Union Strategy to Win for Working People

Comrades and friends,

This year’s Mother Jones Festival takes place against the background of the continuing trauma of the most serious crisis in global capitalism since the 1930s. It is important to say from the outset that this is a demand side crisis largely attributable to exponentially growing inequality in what we know as the “developed world”.

The phenomenon manifests itself in the world of work or the “labour market” in the form of mass unemployment, increasing precariousness and social insecurity on an unprecedented scale. This is increasingly evident in Ireland, Europe and the West. Precarious work, of course, is not new in the developing world where it has been the order of the day for a long time.

It falls to the trade union movement to step up to the task of reasserting human priorities in the workplace and ultimately in the wider economic and social paradigm. It is important to stress this because in the culture of “business unionism” this tends to be taken for granted or even lost sight of altogether. It is also important to say that trade union organisation is the only way to address the task. More important, it is crucial to assert that the trade union movement in Ireland still has the capacity to meet the challenge and to win for working people. Indeed, this is the fundamental premise of this short paper here this evening.

However, to do so, our movement must transform itself, ideologically, culturally and structurally.

In practical terms, it is a challenge which must be met at an industrial, pedagogical and political level.

In order to approach it, we must disabuse ourselves of a number of deeply held myths and misconceptions. One of these, for example, is that the dramatic growth in the, post- Lockout, Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union between Easter Week 1916 and the end of 1918 was primarily attributable to the resistance offered during the Lockout itself and the subsequent events which occurred throughout the decade of rebellion. The fact of the matter is that what happened had more to do with the Munitions Act. This was because, in 1917, the legislation which had been put in place by the government in the United Kingdom to maintain industrial peace for the duration of the war was extended to Ireland. Agricultural Wages Boards which had been set up across the UK to determine wages and conditions to guarantee the food supply were then put in place in Ireland as well. Virtually immediately, agricultural labourers found that the most effective way to secure improvements was by joining a trade union and they flocked to the ranks of the ITGWU in their thousands. It quickly established itself as the dominant union in the sector, absorbing smaller land and labour unions along the way. Membership, which had fallen to somewhere between 3,500 and 5,000 by the time of the Easter Rising, increased to 68,000 by the end of 1918 and 120,000 in 1920. Obviously, the sentiment engendered by the Lockout, the Rising and the War of Independence influenced developments but they were not the primary reason for the growth in union membership. The institutional arrangements put in place for conciliation and arbitration over a whole range of industries also resulted in a very dramatic rise in trade union membership and density across every single region of the UK.

That phenomenon has replicated itself repeatedly in all circumstances in which conditions favourable to the growth of union membership have presented – e.g. during the post war period across Europe, the period following the economically regenerative 1960s and the period following entry into the EEC in Ireland. The purpose of this reference is to debunk the myth that declining union density in the Ireland or indeed throughout the developed world is in some way attributable to some kind of inter-generational or cultural disconnect. It could be argued that such exists but it is consequence rather than the cause of the phenomenon.

The simple fact of the matter is that working people and indeed people generally for that matter will organise in one of two circumstances or better still when a combination of both exist. These are:

When they believe they can win and
When they have no other alternative.

That rule applies throughout the history of industrial societies and in all circumstances irrespective of generational dynamics. It therefore follows that the challenge we must overcome is to instill a belief in people that they can actually win by organising.

Of course, the reality is that the balance has shifted quite dramatically against organised workers and in favour of capital over the past quarter of a century or more. This is attributable to the complex interaction of an array of global factors, each of which merits an entirely separate paper on their own. However, for this evening’s purpose I will simply cite the most significant of them:

The fall of the Soviet Union more than a quarter of a century ago. This immediately virtually quadrupled the global supply of labour available for exploitation by capital (from about 750,000 to two billion when China is included).

The extension of the process of globalisation. This imposed the exploitative employment standards of the developing world in the marketplaces of the West.
The decline of manufacturing in the developed economies.

The expansion of household credit and indebtedness in response to the collapse of real incomes.

The ultimate global collapse of 2008.

The decline of social democracy and the shift to the centre right in the political arena. Lenin wasn’t wrong when he said “the crisis of social democracy is the crisis of capitalism”.

In Europe, in particular, the response which has been employed since 2010 (and earlier in our case) has been one of retrenchment – austerity combined with a “race to the bottom” in the workplace to maximise “competitiveness”. This, as we know, has resulted in the generation of mass unemployment particularly among the young in several European countries which has not been seen since the immediate post war years, accompanied by precariousness and hopelessness which is increasingly evolving into desperation.

We are now entering a new and more dangerous phase in the evolution of the crisis of capitalism and of European and global history. What has happened is that the politics has now caught up with the economics as we always said it inevitably would and it is manifesting itself in a sharp swing in most cases to xenophobic nationalism and the radical right. It is no overstatement to say that we are on the road to catastrophe. This leads through the disorderly collapse of the euro which would inevitably result in levels of deprivation and societal break down beyond anything that can be visualised in our everyday imagination. It would end in a regime of competing nation states and ultimately in regional wars.

I should say at this point that unless the policies of one-sided austerity or even fiscal neutrality as they now call it, combined with the race to the bottom in the world of work, are abandoned immediately the scenario I describe above is not some vague possibility – but is actually inevitable.

I turn then to the question as to “What is to be done?”. After all we are not the EU Commission, the Council of Ministers or the governing board of the ECB. We are not even the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). What can the trade union movement under pressure in a small country in the western periphery of Europe actually do? Well, it remains to be seen – but our obligation is to do everything that we can in our own space.

First and most importantly, we must address the ideological question. Our movement is comprised of an array of organisations founded on the basis of different but not incompatible premises. A number of our unions are vocational organisations formed to promote the interests of those employed in a particular profession, vocation, trade or craft. Others are more general in character formed to promote the interests of members but in the context of a wider historical mission towards an egalitarian society. As long as we function on the basis that, irrespective of the prevailing conditions in the economy and more particularly in society, the cause of a particular vocation or trade or craft can be furthered independently, we cannot make real progress. We have to face up to the challenge of influencing the conditions within which we organise and operate as distinct from simply promoting the cause of a particular group in a context which is determined by others.

The other concept that must be debunked is the notion that it is in some way our role to provide an antagonistic voice against management in those businesses and institutions which recognise their employee’s right to organise and be represented by trade unions. This thinking is fundamentally flawed. Our task is to optimise the quality and the security of our members’ employment in these businesses and institutions. It therefore follows that we must be at the forefront of the thrust to enhance productivity and innovation instead of getting in the way of it as we sometimes do. The fact of the matter is that the security and quality of our members’ employment is entirely dependant on the prosperity of the enterprises in which they work. Moreover, the key to good working conditions and indeed standards of living generally is exponentially increasing productivity. I emphasise, because it will undoubtedly be misrepresented, that this is not about increasing the drudgery or onerousness of work. Actually, it is precisely the opposite.

There is another complementary reason for this approach and that is to minimise employer hostility. We have to reverse the current equation in which we can sometimes find ourselves impeding the prospects for an enterprise that engages in collective bargaining instead of actually enhancing them. Meanwhile, we fail to confront those who do not respect their employee’s right to organise or be represented by trade unions. This equation is graphically evident in any analysis of the deployment of trade union resources as between ‘servicing’ members where we are recognised and organising to confront those who do not afford recognition. It is a fundamentally flawed strategy and it is doomed to failure. The reality of it is that, apart from workers, we should be able to demonstrate that employers who recognise trade unions also enjoy an advantage over those who don’t.

The second criterion I mentioned at the outset arises in the pedagogical arena. This is at least two-dimensional.

In the first instance, we have a responsibility to equip workers to assert their own interests by knowing their rights and understanding how to vindicate them. At a collective level, that extends to developing a greater understanding among our members and workers generally of the nature and character of the forces and influences at work in capitalist society. This applies both in terms of the economics of the companies in which people may work and the wider political arena as well.

In parallel with this, we equally have a responsibility as has been the case with the craft unions of the past to facilitate the education, training and development of our members and workers in the enhancement of their skills. This is particularly applicable in the rapidly changing dynamics of the modern labour market where skills and competencies are becoming redundant almost as rapidly as they are appearing.

The third criterion I mentioned at the outset relates to the political arena. As long ago as the new unionism of the 1880s, our leaders recognised the necessity to compete for political influence and power in order to overcome the limitations of what could be achieved through workplace collective bargaining. This saw the development of political funds and political affiliations to the labour and social democratic parties. Today, in the light of the crisis of social democracy and the increasing diffusion of political representation on the left, there is a need for a more nuanced approach. However, this is not an argument for the depoliticisation of trade unionism. Indeed, quite the opposite is the case. However, our political activity should focus on shifting the entire fulcrum of the debate in society in a manner which prioritises human considerations and egalitarian objectives as distinct from promoting one political party. The aim must be to frame the architecture of the political ‘centre ground’.

On the face of it, this seems an awesome challenge. Yet it is still entirely within the capacity of the trade union movement in Ireland as things stand at present but it cannot be undertaken successfully by any single trade union. Thus, we must have the courage and vision to make the changes that will enable us to accomplish it. The roadmap was outlined in the recommendations of the report of the Commission on Trade Union Organisation to the biennial delegate conferences of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, in Killarney in July 2011 and then in Belfast in July 2013 – the centenary of the Lockout.

These envisaged developing a stronger, more united, more coherent movement, organised in a federal rather than a confederal congress. This, while respecting the autonomy of each individual trade union, would facilitate co-ordination of collective bargaining and organising across each of the individual sectors of the economy in both jurisdictions on the island. Such co-ordination would optimise the prospects for the negotiation of the best possible agreements with employers who respect their employees’ right to organise. Simultaneously, it would enable the deployment of irresistible force in support of workers seeking to organise where unions are not recognised.

This capacity would be reinforced by the development of a fully resourced research capacity, a new workers college, an independent workers controlled media platform and the opening of trade union centres in every major town on the island.

The elements are actually reflected in the ‘One Cork’ project which is underway on a small scale here in this city.

As we stand today, we have the capacity to ensure that workers can organise to win but that will not remain the case indefinitely. The sands of time are ebbing away. It is time to wake up and smell the roses!


SIPTU President Jack O’Connor says Brexit is the result of years of austerity

SIPTU General President, Jack O Connor, has stated that the victory of the Leave campaign in the British referendum on EU membership results from the implementation of austerity policies that have alienated working people across Europe.

O’Connor said: “The vote for Brexit is the result of the years of austerity which have alienated working people all over Europe. Unless there is a dramatic shift in fiscal policy and an immediate end to one sided austerity the end of the European project is now inevitable.

“The UK result will add immense momentum to the hard right across the continent and will fuel demands for referendums in the Netherlands, France and several other countries.”

He added: “The policy of prioritising banks over people must end at once. Europe desperately needs a new deal entailing a massive public investment strategy to generate sustainable jobs. This must be accompanied by a series of measures to secure people’s rights at work in face of the relentless ‘race to the bottom’ in wages and working conditions.”

SIPTU president says new Industrial Relations legislation will strengthen workers’ rights

SIPTU has stated that new measures contained in the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2015, which passed in the Dail on Thursday the 16th of July, will strengthen the rights of workers in Ireland.

SIPTU President, Jack O’Connor said: “The new legislation will strengthen the ability of workers to achieve collectively bargained norms in terms and conditions of employment for their sector. They will be able to exercise this right even in circumstances where an employer refuses to recognise or engage with their trade union.”

He added: “The legislation also re-introduces provisions by which unions and employers can conclude Registered Employment Agreements in individual enterprises. It also introduces an ability for unions to negotiate Sectoral Employment Orders which allow for the legal enforcement of standards in terms of pay and pension and sick pay provisions throughout an industry.”

“This legislation provides clear and balanced mechanisms to deal with specific industrial relations issues. As such it will benefit workers.”

SIPTU members call for pay restoration at rally outside Department of Health

SIPTU Health Division members called on the Government to honour its commitment to restore their pay in line with national agreements at a rally today (Thursday, 30th April) outside the Department of Health, Dublin 2.

At the rally, frontline health workers and support staff heard speeches stating that because workers had fulfilled their commitments under the Haddington Road Agreement it was now time for the Government to meet its obligation to resort their pay.

Addressing the rally, SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, called for the restoration workers’ pay and dismissed what he described as “myths about the public sector”.

“One myth,” he said, “is that there is some kind of conflict between the people who work in the public service and the interests of the citizens who utilise them.

“There is no conflict, we all share an interest in winning the battle for a good public services, for a good public health service.”

Roisin Quinn, a health care assistant and SIPTU activist, said: “SIPTU is in a battle now to make our jobs more sustainable that will support the long term interest of the people we care about and care for.”

Concluding the rally, SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, called for the Government to live up to its commitments by initially restoring the earnings of lower paid workers.

He said: “Looking to the future we believe that the Government working with SIPTU have an opportunity to commence a journey which will see the closing of the gap between low to middle income earners and those at the top.

“This position is not just about pay and economics its about our society going forward.”

SIPTU President calls for 5% wage increases and sharp rise in minimum wage

SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor has said that in the coming months his union will embark on a major campaign for pay increases of 5% across the economy. In a speech at Glasnevin Cemetery today (Saturday 31st January) to mark the commemoration of the death of Jim Larkin in 1947, the SIPTU president also said that the union would also engage in a “in a new battle to establish a minimum living wage of €11.45 an hour across all those sectors of the economy where the gross exploitation of vulnerable workers is the order of the day.”

He added that SIPTU members will also engage in “a national campaign to apply pressure on the Government to commence the task of abolishing the Universal Social Charge and replacing it with a new mechanism which will be equally efficient as a means of raising revenue from the better off while removing the burden on those on low to middle incomes.”

Welcoming the dramatic election victory of Syriza in Greece last weekend he said that it signalled the end of nightmare of the one-sided austerity experiment across Europe.

“The intellectual case for one-sided austerity is utterly redundant.  It didn’t work in theory and now we know, at horrendous cost, that it doesn’t work in practice either.  The experiment has been tried and failed spectacularly.  That analysis is no longer restricted to those on the Left but is clearly evident across the mainstream of the political spectrum,” he said.

The SIPTU President called for a new ‘concordat’ between labour and capital which would replicate the great post war settlement that resulted in more than a generation of unprecedented and consistent economic growth, raising living standards in Western Europe to a greater degree than had ever been experienced before over a similar timeframe in recorded history.

In the approach to the centenary of the 1916 Rising, Jack O’Connor also called on Irish social democrats, left republicans and independent socialists to set aside sectarian divisions and to “develop a political project aimed at winning the next General Election on a common platform, let’s call it ‘Charter 2016’.”  He said that it must set out what an alternative left of centre government “would be for as distinct to what we are against.”

SIPTU to seek 5% pay rises across public and private sectors

SIPTU wants abolition of Universal Social Charge

SIPTU calls for 5% pay hikes for workers


SIPTU General President calls for referendum on public ownership of water

SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, has called on the Government to promote a referendum to amend the constitution to prohibit the privatisation of public water supply.

Jack O’Connor said: “SIPTU supports the call for a constitutional change which will enshrine the public ownership of water and its supply. This call, which has been made by the Green Party and a number of progressive organisations, will end any drift towards the privatisation of water.

“None of the major political parties would openly support privatisation, some because they are deeply ideologically opposed to it, others because it would be so unpopular. Nevertheless, it will still come about by stealth and very quickly too if the citizens of Ireland do not vote for such a constitutional change.

“If Irish Water is unable to collect its revenues it will become insolvent. Then the government of the day will be faced with tax increases and public spending cuts associated with putting the costs of water supply back on the State’s balance sheet. The use of ‘private money’ would soon emerge as the solution to such a funding crisis and the creeping privatisation of the service would then ensue. A constitutional amendment could preclude such a tragedy”.

Jack O’Connor also reiterated the SIPTU call for a mechanism to fully offset the cost of every households ‘normal need for water’, while preserving the incentive for conservation.

He added: “It’s not rocket science. A refundable tax credit is the way to do it. Fiddling around with the issue won’t cut the mustard. It will simply prolong the crisis. In the end, and possibly very quickly, Irish Water won’t be able to collect its revenues thus rendering it insolvent and we will sleepwalk into the privatisation of public water supply”.