July 4, 2022



Energy savings are slippery political territory, no matter which shower are in power

3 min read

TAXI drivers are right – with Irish politicians, either one shower is in power or it’s the other shower.

ut the Green Party is in danger of becoming a mini-shower in more ways than one after leader Eamon Ryan’s latest inflation-busting advice: take shorter showers.

It left the Taoiseach today referring to personal “energy efficiency” when asked about mean Green hygiene.

Asked if it was either practical or patronising to urge shorter showers, Mr Martin said energy efficiency “makes sense any time of the year, crisis or no crisis”.

Despite a sense of his being hung out to dry by a Cabinet colleague, he hotly added: “Let’s not be so dismissive of that.

“Energy efficiency is an important issue – hence, we’re putting so much money into homes to enable people to have greater energy efficiency, which means less cost for people.”

Thus, he didn’t slip up on the soap, knowing full well the reaction to Ryan’s earlier suggestion that drivers slow down to save fuel – it just wouldn’t wash.

The Taoiseach said he had no issue with any energy efficiency proposals at all. As to whether Mr Ryan was in danger of being lampooned for such suggestions about showers, Mr Martin again played a straight bath, refusing to agree that baldies (like this reporter) might take shorter showers than others.

But the Taoiseach emphasised that we do need to reduce our dependency on loofah tools.

I’m sorry, I misread my shorthand notes – dependency on fossil fuels is what he said.

And the bare facts are that we must also reduce dependency on Russian oil and gas — although, um, “we’re not as exposed as other countries are”.

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But the filthy media again tried to rain on Mr Martin’s parade by returning matters to Mr Ryan’s fewer-drops idea… and whether it might smack of Seán Fleming’s recent brainwave that people should “shop around” instead of waiting for the Government to do absolutely everything for them.

The Taoiseach, at a serious and dignified jobs announcement, was not catching that particular lobbed sponge. The question just didn’t gel, and he instead chose to stall with statistics.

Perfectly groomed in a stylish suit and brilliant white shirt, the patient Taoiseach also refused to get steamed when asked if he had taken a shorter shower himself this morning. Presumably, the exact time wasn’t recorded on a stopwatch.

But you can see why this stuff is politically tricky. It is one thing the Greens getting into a lather about finer forms of facing the day – by a very modest display of your modesty – but it is quite another thing to expect your coalition partners to shower together to save water.

Now all attention will focus on Eamon Ryan’s inspirational oily hair in the days to come. And if it is not oily – he will perhaps pardon an unfortunate fossil-fuel phrase – then there will be hell to pay.

Five years ago the premier of the Western Cape in South Africa, Helen Zille, revealed she showers only every third day. “I regard oily hair in a drought to be as much of a status symbol as a dusty car,” she said.

Whether she would regard an energy cost crisis as a similarly serious circumstance is another matter. She had, you see, left office within two years.

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Mr Ryan’s future remains to be decided as he earnestly insists that we all have groom to improve. And indeed there is a serious issue involved that should be maturely reflected upon (but not in this article).

Let us all simply hope that an impatient electorate doesn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

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