The Battle Of Irish Water: Another Reason To Heed Protesters

James Quigley, in the first of a two part article in Buncrana Together, tackles Irish Water.

This article centers around Irish Water Ltd. It questions the political, economical and social agendas of the some of the playmakers behind the multi billion euro project and criticises the ever growing influence they have on the Irish political system.

The first article is a more generalised synopsis of what I believe are serious issues of political and social manipulation surrounding the setting up of the semi state Irish Water company. The second article will be more specific and will zone in on some of the playmakers' involvement in the saga, an elitist club of academics, professionals and multinationals forging what could be described as the equivalent of a masonic fellowship.

The 'one-arm bandit' may seem a bit misleading. It suggests an Irish system as a game of chance.

However, the reality could not be further from the truth. What one hand giveth, the other taketh away. All gaming machines in fact are rigged. Gambling generally is manipulated to give the owners the upper hand, the odds and permutations are studied to give optimal profit. They are calculated to draw you in, keep you hooked but extract as much cash as they can. Otherwise they would not be in business. Everything looks legit but in reality it is an illusion, a trick, the razzmatazz of tinsel town.

Largest project in history of the state

In 2014 Bord Gáis Éireann described Irish Water in a submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment as “one of the largest reform projects in the history of the State”.

Another interesting report and one which is at the heart of this discourse, 'Delivering Ireland's Water Services for the 21st Century' was prepared in 2011 by The Irish Academy of Engineering and Engineers Ireland. . It was presented to the Oireachtas, by Mr Gerry Grant, Managing Director, RPS. Incidentally Mr Grant is now Managing Director of Irish Water Ltd.

It is not what the report advises that is important but it is the members of the report's taskforce that is revealing. It includes RPS, Engineers Ireland, Irish Academy of Engineers, State and Co Council employees and various individual private consultant firms. We will focus on these groups in the second part of this article. However, this group represents a quintessential example of the establishment joining forces with multinational corporations to set or influence the political and social agenda.

This multi billion euro Irish Water project, with approx €11bn of assets and nearly the same again in running costs, has indeed unearthed a can of worms. Intrigues abound. Not only is it because of the vast amount of money involved but probably more so because Irish Water is what has been described as the 'largest reform project in history' that has attracted the interest of a myriad of multinational corporations along with indigenous entrepreneurs and academics. Like a herd of sharks, they have tasted the potential of this bonanza.

To some the Irish Water project may be Shangri-La but to a lot of Irish people it epitomises how our political, economical and social system has been systematically manipulated by global and indigenous interests for their own ends.

From Irish Water's embryo stage some 16 years ago right through to the Troika supervised formation stage, 2012-2014, to the present day political impasse, Irish Water Ltd has a history of secrecy, controversy and political manipulation. It has seen the involvement of high powered multinational corporations and local Irish businesses in the affairs of the state. It is this relationship between the establishment, politicians, local businesses, academics and partisan group and multinationals corporations that is the driving force behind the Irish Water project. It is this relationship that is at the heart of the controversy where one could nearly describe the outcome as a coup.

The methods and techniques used by these elite forces are insidious, pervasive and relentless. Because of present day economics Governments and countries are entrapped by the lure of employment and a quick GDP fix. It is a catch 22 situation where the elite use politicians and vice versa politicians use multinationals corporations to further each others agendas. Instead of pursuing quality of life, self sufficiency and indigenous employment we are sucked into a dependency of multinational corporations. These corporations are by their very nature transitory, adversarial, secretive and self-serving and extremely powerful. They have no allegiances other than the stock markets and profits. Barriers to trade and borders are broken down, political systems are manipulated and politicians bought and sold.

Photo from Ernst&Young

Cultural diversity and political systems are harmonised to attain 'economy of scale', the be all and end all of the their economic structure. We all have to be the same, automatons, with the same needs and outlook in order to service this multinational imperialistic megalomaniac machine.

Great legions of lobbyists

Nothing as far as possible is left to chance, apart, of course, from the roulette wheel of the stock exchange. Countries, political systems, market trends and the public have all been thoroughly assessed, researched and analysed. A methodology and model is developed to conquer the market. Many of these corporations and even individuals have ready access to more cash than individual countries.

All our political, legal, educational institutions are used to further multinational corporations' goals . Great legions of lobbyist, solicitors, engineering, planning and economic advisers are employed to copper-fasten their agenda.

The illusion of democracy and freedom is churned out through the controlled media, puppet politicians and omnipotent public relations firms. We are led to believe that all the endeavours are for the citizen's own good and the benefit of society. There is never any mention of the vast profits to be made or the control of political systems. The public are constantly fed the idea of democracy and are told that they have a choice, a say in their affairs. Half truths and diversions hide the fact that the illusion of democracy comes around every 5 years where we dutifully hand over the levers of power to political prostitutes and the sugar daddies. It is a merry-go-round, a house of mirrors, flashing lights and the jingle of change. Maybe we might walk away with the teddy bear or maybe nothing at all.

Ireland, it's people and it's politicians have been thoroughly assessed, surveyed, our habits and markets researched and analysed. The elite have produced a model and a methodology to suit their philosophy. Such a model is Irish Water Ltd and an unmerciful propaganda war is now raging to consolidate the company and philosophy into the Irish system.

Multinational feast, of course, done through a competitive procurement process

Bord Gáis was chosen to oversee this project. In their 2014 submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee they stated:

Bord Gais was given a mandate to establish Irish Water as a key part of the water reform programme. We set out for Government our approach for delivering Irish Water back in January 2012......... Bord Gáis set out clearly, from the outset, that while the core capability to define what was required to establish Irish Water existed within Bord Gáis, it would require the use of specialist service providers to help implement this programme. In essence the Bord Gáis team in conjunction with secondees from the Local Authorities and the Department specified what was required. Bord Gáis used its experience and its existing systems and processes to define the requirements for Irish Water.

The external services and the costs were: IBM €44.8m, Accenture €17.2m, Ernst & Young €4.6m and KPMG €2.2m.

Up to 2014 Bord Gáis spent the guts of €2bn including the above expenditure, their own running costs and that of the metering contracts of over €1.2bn. All metering contracts went to outside multinational companies including Murphy Group, Coffey Northumbrian Ltd and GMC Sierra. GMC Sierra a subsidiary of the infamous and former Siteserv, (now Actavo). Last year Eurostat calculated that Irish Water expenditure to be €800m per year over a 8 year period until 2021. This figure will probably reach €1bn per year. Incidentally there is no mention in the report of the Siteserv controversy or the offer made by Siemens to provide meters at a much cheaper price. No everything was above board and contract awarded "through a competitive procurement process".

Bord Gáis Éireann has since been split up, the lucrative part privatised and sold to Centrica plc in 2014. The unprofitable part is now called Ervia, a semi state company. Irish Water Ltd, apparently is a subsidiary of Ervia. Even Eurostat, an EU statistical office was not able to define the make up of Irish Water Ltd. Isn't it ironical that Bord Gáis the parent company who used it's own model as a template for Irish Water has been privatised and sold off. A bad omen for the future.

So you believe we have a democracy?

A quote from Ernst & Young, one of the external corporations hired by Bord Gáis in 2012 to set up Irish Water:

We have one strong global leadership team that sets one single global strategy and agenda. To ensure we are efficient and effective, we have organized our legal entities into 28 similarly sized business units, called Regions, in terms of both people and revenues. These Regions, almost all of which are purposely not single countries, are grouped into four geographic Areas.

What is Democracy?

According to political scientist Larry Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements:

(a) A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; (b) The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; (c) Protection of the human rights of all citizens, and (d) A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

Democracy, he says:

must improve where it already exists before it can spread to other countries. He believes solving a country’s governance, rather than its economy, is the answer. Every democratic country needs to be held responsible for good governance, not just when it suits them. Without significant improvements in governance, economic growth will not be sustainable. For a democratic structures to endure – and be worthy of endurance – they must listen to their citizens’ voices, engage their participation, tolerate their protests, protect their freedoms, and respond to their needs - The Spirit of Democracy

Shane Ross magnificent Dáil speech

“Irish Water symbolises what is so wrong with Ireland today and so wrong with this government. It embraces so many wrongs and so many attitudes that so many recent that it has united unusual and unlikely forces against this government and Irish Water” he goes on to admonish the government of political appointments to the board of Irish Water.” Shane Ross, 2014, Dáil Éireann.

Eddie Hobbs Deep State

Democracy in Ireland partially exists every few years at election time when politicians and media make a little fuss and somehow cajole you into believing their myths. What they do not tell you or you don't seem to get is that you really do not have any power. Real power only exist in what Mr Hobbs calls 'Deep State'.

Can the battle for democracy be won?

Taking on such a force may seem futile. However, there is a chink in the elites' armour, an Achilles' heel. This vulnerability is the absolute arrogance, the flaunting of power, wealth and prestige, the condescension and the manipulation of political processes and not least corruption. Coupled with that there is a massive upsurge in popular protest in Ireland against what is seen as corruption and wanton neglect. It is this political awareness, the amount of contempt and the anger against the Irish Water project and the forces behind it that has the potential to put a stop to the elite's plans.

Somehow democracy has to be salvaged and wrested from the grips of the power brokers. The last stand could be the battle against Irish Water Ltd. If the Irish Water model succeeds then it would be fair to say that corruption and anti democratic forces will have achieved their goals.

Bord Gáis 2014 Submission to Oireachas:

Irish Academy of Engineers and Engineers Ireland report: Delivering Irelands Water Services for 21st Century

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