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The View from Hickeys World

Recently Irish Water announced that 675,000 households paid their water bills. That’s 43% of customers. I’m one of them.

When Irish Water sent me a form some months to complete, I signed it. Yes, I completed the whole thing, answered all questions truthfully, even gave my PPS number and bank details so the charge could be deducted quarterly. I’m sure some people would like to tear me from limb to limb for my action, but while I’m not mad about paying any bill I feel an obligation to do so.

Now this might leave those of you who are protesting against water charges aghast, but much as I hated parting with my money, it was signalled way in advance that the charge was coming and I elected to comply.

Last year water meter installers arrived in our estate and worked away without interference. However, although there were no demonstrators around, there was one problem – they couldn’t put meters outside several homes as there are no footpaths outside them, including mine.

I know some of my social media followers are vociferous in their opposition to Irish Water, and I’m all for protest as long as it is peaceful and respectful, but I had made up my mind to pay. Just like I did when the Property Tax came in. I have always agreed with the latter by the way, but again that’s my view. We can respectfully agree to disagree.

I could cheerfully do without paying the above, especially as I am unemployed, but bills are bills. I remember every month my father would raise a fistful of bills in the air and ask “Who’s going to be lucky this month?” Since our utility bills were never cut off I’m assuming they were paid immediately. The others might get as far as a ‘final demand’ before he reluctantly parted with his money.

I never let a bill hang around long enough without paying. Some I look after via direct debit, others by credit card (I’m in the black, but thanks for asking) – but all are paid on time. Even the TV licence fee – it’s up on July 31 – will be attended to at the post office next week. Of all the bills that come into Chez Hickeys the one that irritates my wife the most is the TV licence. She wants nothing to do with it. It’s also one I probably resent the most too if I’m honest. I guess the idea we should support a state TV behemoth like RTE that also sucks in huge volumes of advertising and sponsorship as well as getting so much of its income from the TV licence is what particularly galls me. It might also have something to do with having worked for a competing newspaper in a small advertising market.

Are we a nation of moaners when it comes to paying for services? Why does a small business often find itself chasing people – unsuccessfully in some cases – for payment? The ads about ‘TV spongers’ might refer to a reluctance to pay for TV licences, but we also seem to enjoy not paying fines for traffic offences. Is this an especially Irish failing or what? Talk to any tradesman and I’ll guarantee you he’ll have a horrifying tale of chasing people for work done.

I just checked my account and the Bord Gais payment went through. Just one regular bill left this month, my mobile. Oh, and the TV licence – it’s €160. Fortunately I have €90 of that in coins to drop into the bank to help ease the pain somewhat.

Thankfully, there are no major bill on the horizon, just the usual monthly ones. Now, if only I could win the Lotto.

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