A legacy of underinvestment

 

Sir, – It is not surprising that, only a few years after mass refusals to pay for an overhaul of our archaic water supply, we are faced with a crisis attributable to underinvestment in that most basic of necessities.

One can presume that most of the warnings about this, literally a vital issue, were conveyed by the national broadcaster, a service of the highest quality which is itself facing financial challenges.

Meanwhile, how we will fund a national broadband service of adequate quality remains unclear.

These services, along with perhaps meteorology and emergency responses, are essential to every member of a modern society.

Importantly though, they all interact – there is little value in predicting extreme weather events, or even sampling water quality, unless you can rapidly disseminate the results, and ideally coordinate suitable responses.

Ultimately if we won’t pay for them as a people, it is hypocritical to complain when they turn out to be of poor quality.

At a time of national financial crisis, Brian Lenihan as minister for finance introduced a universal social charge. As soon as possible after that though, it began to get whittled away, rapidly ceasing to be “universal”. While the middle word might be better defined as “service”, I think that such a charge ought to be reintroduced as a 1 per cent tax on all income, ideally with no exemptions.

Citizens should regard it as the price of enjoying the high-quality radio and television, clean water, access to modern media and emergency responses and alerts that we expect, and it should fund exactly those areas.

This within a few years should allow us to guarantee drinkable water everywhere, and to maintain a credible media presence in the era of fake news. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN O’BRIEN,

Kinsale,

Co Cork.