Going Back to Phil up at The Fountain

I’ve thought for a long while that it was only a matter of time before someone with a mind like my own came up with an ‘antidote’ to the water meters.

Now it seems that there’s a little €2 device that just trips them up.

Irish Water made the lily-white county of Kildare its pilot project in the metering scheme which it rolled out in the fall of last year.

Now the organisation, which was in hot water itself earlier this year about its lavish offices and associated, cash sapping perks, is warning Kildare householders against tampering with its meters.

The news this weekend is that anti-water charges campaign groups across Ireland are encouraging the public to remove their water meters and use a €2 plastic plug to keep their supply on tap so-to-speak.

The Minister Phil Hogan created organisation says that meter tampering is an offence which could result in a three month prison sentence and/or a fine of up to €5,000.

I wasn’t going to say a word about this until Phil Hogan’s back was turned and he was well gone to Europe for sure.

But, water consumers in the Castleisland area could be flocking back to The Fountain in their droves for their daily supply.

It used to be the ‘Sweet Gallons’ and galvanised  bucket brigade that lined up for the fountain water once upon a time.

However, The Fountain – the favourite Dáil or gathering place of several generations of Castleislanders – fell from favour and grace when its supply line – from a well in the centre of St. Stephen’s Park – was broken under Hogan’s Arch by a JCB during the installation of the Loughquittane supply in the 1980s.

Incredibly, for such an iconic landmark, it remained bone dry from that day until a day in early September 2010.

Then, one day a digger appeared and then Cllr. Danny Healy Rae and later his son Johnny.

Shortly after a flurry of work around the fountain the digger disappeared and the Healy Raes remained and they were surrounded by friends and supporters and someone offered a glass to Danny. However, Danny’s head was already under the tap and, with a press of a button, the water flowed. Showing his barman savvy Danny let the first pint or two go before tasting the fountain’s first flowing moment in over 20 years.

I was asked to be there to photograph the flowing moment and was glad to oblige. I did notice though and wondered why there was no sign of ‘Water-to-The Fountain campaigner, Anthony Cronin.

In fact I wondered aloud only to be told that The Latin Quarter resident was in Barcelona at a family wedding.

I simply had to meet him as soon as he came home  and we convened at The Fountain early the following week. I congratulated him on his tenacity and asked him if he had any other local campaign in mind.

He took a sip from the glass he’d just filled and looked over his shoulder at the stalled Market House clock. “Give me time,” he said wittily and smiled.  He drank, with great satisfaction, to the conclusion of a 20-year campaign and to the health of Tom Fleming and Danny Healy Rae. There’s a lot of Uisce faoin Droichead since.

So, if these €2 plugs are illegal and if the government plays fair and charge people only for what they use, could The Fountain be our saviour or will Phil Hogan’s boys tamper with the supply. They can fix it that they won’t be fined or jailed for their tampering with our supply. But I hope, for their sakes, that Anthony Cronin doesn’t catch them at it. Then, fines or jail would be the least of their troubles.