In years gone by, politicians were fond of promising, come election time, that they would drain the Shannon basin. Commissions were set up to look into the engineering requirements, committees met to consider the benefits for agriculture in areas prone to frequent flooding, the tourism industry would prosper, and hydroelectric power would heat every home in the land.

Like many political promises, this one never made it off the drawing board. But so long as the reports and the studies kept coming in, politicians could promise in perpetuity. Few political promises ever become reality. In fact, the only political promise that comes to mind that became a political fact on the ground is ‘Health cuts hurt the old, the sick and the handicapped.’ Trouble is, no one realised that was a promise at the time, not a warning.

Times change. We’re in a new century now, and the promise is no longer to drain the Shannon basisn. Instead, the government is thinking of flooding it.

The idea is, a dam would create an artificial lake, which would hold enough water to serve thirsty Dubliners for up to four months.

Seems like a lot of work just to water the petunias.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.