The true cost of waste

Enda Kenny came to town last Thursday and many locals took the opportunity to have a moan about his policies.

Enda Kenny came to town last Thursday and many locals took the opportunity to have a moan about his policies.

Whether that was in the form of a protest outside the Ballymascanlon Hotel or by giving out about him to a friend, colleague or family member, it’s fair to say that the Taoiseach’s ears would have been burning before he started the drive back down the M1.

The likes of the forthcoming property tax, the cuts in last year’s Budget and the impending problems that trying to cut the public sector pay bill will create mean that the government is a touchy subject at present.

Now, I’m not for one second going to take the attitude ‘we are where we are’ but if we’re really honest about it there’s little alternative to such policies – no matter how unpalatable some of them are.

The likes of the property tax was agreed with the Troika and while you might not necessarily agree with them, the reality is they are keeping our country running at present, albeit maybe not in a way that most people would like.

Cuts are hard, new taxes are hard and austerity is hard. The harsh reality is though that the country is sick and a harsh medicine, no matter what its form, is the only cure.

Sometimes I wonder if we’re really helping ourselves though.

For instance, our local authorities are struggling to perform even basic tasks at present and yet selfish individuals in the area are making their jobs even harder.

Take, for example, the patch of wasteland at the back of St Nicholas’ Avenue.

It was revealed in last week’s newspaper by Cllr Eamonn O’Boyle that our local fire service had been called out to deal with fires on this patch of land 49 times between 2004 and 2009.

Those 49 call outs came at a cost of €22,000 to the taxpayer and, if anything, the problem at St Nicholas’ Avenue has only got worse with a major fire set alight there as recently as a couple of weeks ago.

The constant lighting of fires at St Nicholas’ Avenue is not isolated to this area and you only have to read the local papers or listen to the local radio to hear about the regular gorse fires that the fire service are forced to fight out on the Cooley Mountains – again at a great expense to you and I.

Then there is the illegal fuel trade that is operating here. Last week another container of toxic sludge was found abandoned on the Armagh Road. This was one of several dozen such incidents in the last few years with the council spending several hundred thousand dealing with the problem.

These are just a couple of examples of the type of money that is being wasted at a local level and I’m sure there are similar examples in every county around the country.

Maybe if so much wasn’t being wasted then we wouldn’t need a property tax. After all, I’m sure more has been spent on dealing with needless fires and the disposal of toxic waste in the last few years than the local authority could ever hope to bring in from the property tax.

There are bound to be people in the area who know those who are responsible for such things. Staying silent is costing you, me and just about everyone else.

If we cut down on the waste, maybe then the government can begin to cut us some slack.