A report into the effort to introduce domestic water charges has identified a number of policy failings that doomed the plans of the last government.
The findings are contained in research by the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, which is being published this morning.
It finds that there was a serious disconnect between the design and the implementation of the charging policy.
Domestic water charges have been among the most controversial issues to affect Irish society in recent years.
They led to huge demonstrations, widespread non-compliance and, ultimately, the scrapping of the charging regime along with an extensive refund programme.
The report contrasts the failure of the last government’s water policy with the successful implementation of the Local Property Tax.
It is based on interviews with policy makers, former government members and senior civil servants.
The research finds that the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government tried to do too much, too soon and says a more gradual imposition of charges might have worked.
However, the pace of the rollout was largely dictated by the decision to create the Irish Water utility and get the issue off the government’s balance sheet.
This was a "treacherous basis for policy", the report found.
Introducing free allowances for usage complicated the charging structure, adding further difficulties.
In contrast, the Local Property Tax, introduced in 2013, was a simpler regime: No meters, no utility and clearly delineated charges, collected by Revenue.
The LPT has a 98% compliance rate, while all water charges have been refunded to those who paid them in the first place.
Even at the point when some householders were paying their water bills, maximum compliance stood at just over the 50% mark.
Today’s study points out that the 2009 report from the Commission on Taxation dealt with both water charges and property taxes.
That document recommended a gradual, phased rollout of water charges and metering over a number of years, with an initial flat charge and a waiver system for low income households.
While this advice went unheeded, the recommendations on the introduction of a property tax were almost replicated in full, when the charge was brought in.
The NUI Galway report 'How (Not) To Do Public Policy' also points out that an awareness of challenges that might arise was central to the planning of the LPT.
It adds that the decision to give Revenue the responsibility for collecting the charge was "a key moment".