From Bended Knee to a New Republic: How the Fight for Water is Changing Ireland by Brendan Ogle

from bended knee to a new republic

I was firmly on the fence during the anti-water charges campaign of 2014-2016 in Ireland. I can remember thinking that water shouldn’t be privatised and “fair play” to the protesters for getting out and exercising their democratic rights, but further than that, I couldn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. A year ago, I would have told you that this was because I came from a family that was financially comfortable and politically status-quo. While both of these reasons are probably fairly accurate, I’m more aware now politically in ways I never been had before and this book is a decent contributor to that process.

I’m beginning to suspect that the mainstream Irish media and political establishment aren’t being fully honest with the electorate. If they are being honest, I’m also beginning to suspect that they’re only in the position they’re currently in because it’s impossible for them to conceive of anything otherwise. It’s a complete and total cognitive dissonance, in which the alternative reality wherein Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael aren’t in power, inequality isn’t a fact of life and the Sunday Independent isn’t gospel is a dangerous world where the sinister fringe has taken over.

Brendan Ogle’s book is a personal journey as much as it is an account of the lifespan of the Right2Water movement. He comes across as very humane, very fair and principled. He never goes below the belt in his criticisms of his political opponents and makes some compelling arguments backed up by facts and figures to get his point across.

The book does have some weak points though. It could have definitely used a good editor to iron out the typos (there were quite a few and to give the whole book a better structure, e.g. Ogle includes the submission to the Government’s expert commission at the end of the book and it feels as if the entire book has just been condensed to 12 pages. And I’m no expert on debating but surely you should avoid rhetorical devices like “…and don’t even get me started on private schools!”.

It’s very readable though, which non-fiction often isn’t, and since Brendan himself works as a educator in political and economic issues for the trade union movement we shouldn’t be surprised. Anyone at all, no matter your background/accent/educational attainments, could pick this up and feel well-armed the next time they get into a political debate and well-able to put smooth talking guff merchants firmly back in their box.  And well they should.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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