If the opinion polls are to be believed, Fianna Fail and the Greens will be bounced into oblivion at the next general election by all those people waiting in the proverbial long grass. Such a scenario may well come to pass but anybody who thinks the government parties are already dead and buried is making a big mistake.

Last week, I detected the first sure signs that Fianna Fail still believes it is in with more than a good chance of being back in government. No official announcements were made but the word was put out by several ministers and senior party sources that domestic property tax and domestic water rates would not be applied anytime soon.

If they thought they had no chance at the next election they would have brought in the charges anyway and put it up Fine Gael and Labour to either abolish them in power or deal with all the protests.

Water charges, in particular, have always been a highly emotive issue in this city. Older readers will recall protests, marches and stand-offs with gardai as anonymous men from ‘up the country’ were brought in to turn off supplies to private homes on the city’s estates. However, the likelihood is that, sometime in the future, metered charges will be imposed as opposed to a flat, catch-all annual payment.

Of course, the big, big battle will come when a government introduces a property tax. In other words, if implemented, such a levy would mark the return of domestic rates that were abolished by the Jack Lynch-led Fianna Fail government in 1977.

Last year, the government introduced the Non Principal Private Residence Tax at €200 per annum on everything from holiday homes to buy-to-let properties. So far, over €100m has been collected and there is more to come. It is estimated that there are close to two million households in the country at present and that half of them would be liable for domestic rates/property tax. Some experts claim the tax could bring in more than €1b each year although that may be a rather optimistic view.

Considering the huge amount of people in trouble with their mortgages and the number of home owners in negative equity, the imposition of such a household tax would surely be political suicide at this time but that doesn’t mean the government won’t claw in the money by some other means. Expect Brian Lenihan’s next budget to be a bruiser.

Too much of a difference!

Every evening, at about 10pm, Frankie went to his local pub and drank steadily until closing time. Like clockwork, he arrived home every night fluthered and, without fail, his wife would be waiting to give out yards to him about his drinking, the money he was wasting and the damage he was doing to his health.

One day, Frankie’s wife was talking to a friend about her husband’s behaviour and how it was really getting her down. The friend listened carefully and then came up with a suggestion. “Why don’t you treat him differently when he comes home? Instead of berating him, give him some loving words and welcome him back into the house with a big kiss. You never know, that might convince him to change his ways.”

The wife thought it a suggestion worth trying so that night, when a drunken Frankie arrived home from the pub, she took him in her arms and gave him a passionate kiss. She then led him to the settee where she got him settled comfortably before producing a nice cup of tea and a ham sandwich. Frankie thought he was in heaven and, after some more cuddling, when his wife suggested that they go to bed and make love he couldn’t believe his good fortune.

”OK sweetheart”, he slurred, “but I can’t stay too long because my wife will be waiting for me at home.”