Politics and the price of water

Sir, – Noel Whelan ("Fianna Faáil arewrong on water charges", Opinion & Analysis, March 3rd) argues that the Government cannot legislate against the advice of the Attorney General, because "a long-established constitutional norm is that the Government must follow the Attorney General's advice on constitutionality".

This may indeed be a norm, but does that make it right? It certainly helps to explain the legislative inertia of successive governments in a number of pressing areas of social policy, including, for example, planning, housing and upward-only rent reviews, where the public good may not have been best served by legislative veto on the part of the AG.

Given that the Supreme Court is (as far as I know) the final arbiter of constitutionality, and given that the AG can be and has in the past been mistaken, maybe some different convention could be adopted. One option might be that where Oireachtas passes legislation without the agreement of the Attorney General, the President would automatically refer it to the Supreme Court before signing it. A constitutional amendment might of course be needed to ensure that this happens.

That would remove possible unconstitutionality as an excuse by the legislators for doing too little, and they might try harder as a result. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 6.

Sir, – If and when my water payments are refunded, I will regard this as a sad day. It looks as though the opportunity to significantly improve our water infrastructure through the conduit of Irish Water has passed, thus depriving our children and grandchildren of a reliable, safe and efficient water supply. Populist politics has won the day at the expense political maturity, aided and abetted by the chameleon-like Soldiers of Destiny. We should in future desist from casting vexatious aspersions on our neighbours across the Atlantic; we truly have had our Trump moment. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – If 20th-century Irish political history tells us anything, it tells us that it is only a matter of time before the esteemed and intelligent Irish electorate vote back in Fianna Fáil to government. Furthermore, it also tells us that, at that juncture, it shall only be a matter of time before Fianna Fáil lead the country to a catastrophe of some sort. When this inevitability occurs, I beg the esteemed and intelligent Irish electorate to remember who they voted for, what promises they were sold and then to tell themselves that in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.

Sir, – If the fallout from the water charges farce results in an election, I shall leave this country and move to America for a better class of politician. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 9.