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Water Charges

The Green Party wants a referendum to make sure Irish Water isn't privatised

The party’s councillors will submit the motion in the coming weeks.

THE GREEN PARTY has launched a new campaign for the Government to hold a referendum to guarantee public ownership of water services.

The party’s 12 councillors will submit a motion to their council on the issue in the coming weeks.

Party leader Eamon Ryan originally signed-off on the introduction of water charges as part of bailout negotiations.

However, during his candidacy for the European Parliament, the former Minister said he only signed up because he thought Labour would veto them once in power.

The party is hoping to bring about a referendum to insert this Article into the constitution:

The State shall treat drinking water as an essential resource and in the interests of the common good the State shall not provide for the privatisation or commercialisation of water services for the people.

Ryan said that the Government established Irish Water in a way that allows for future privatisation.

“At the moment, the continued public ownership of this precious resource hangs on the support of the government of the day,” he added.

“Fine Gael and Labour will argue that they have no plans to privatise Irish Water, but the very way the company was set up makes it more than a distinct possibility.

For years, the Labour Party said they would oppose the privatisation of the Irish semi-state energy companies, but that is exactly what has just happened with the sale of Bord Gais Energy. Private equity markets are particularly interested in this type of regulated asset company where there is a guaranteed income stream.

Speaking last week in the Dáil, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly stressed that the utility can’t be privatised.

“This is the law of the land. While this is a legitimate concern many people have, it is based on falsehood. It cannot happen,” he said.

Read: What would the Greens do in Government? … Build, build, build >

More: A lot of people want to drill a private well before water charges come in… >

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