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Dublin: 13°C Saturday 19 September 2020

Public ownership of water just got one step closer to being enshrined in the Constitution

The water committee agreed, unanimously without a vote, that it is in favour of placing Irish Water in public ownership in the Constitution.

Image: Shutterstock/Dan Kollmann

THE OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE on water has committed to holding a referendum enshrining public ownership of Irish Water in the Constitution.

The 20-member committee met in private today to hammer out some of the issues relating to water charges, refunds and metering.

It’s understood a number of substantial amendments were made to the draft working report.

The committee agreed, unanimously without a vote being needed among its members, that it is in favour of a referendum to include the utility in public ownership in the Constitution.

The view has been communicated to the Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government, states the report.

Public ownership

The public ownership of Irish Water has been floated a number of times during the water charges debacle. Junior Minister and Independent Alliance member John Halligan, as well as AAA-PBP’s Joan Collins have both pushed for a referendum on the issue.

Another amendment in relation to the installation of water meters in new-builds was a cause for disagreement today.

Fine Gael had submitted that it should be obligatory for all new-build homes to have a water meter installed, however, the following submission was today deleted from the report:

The Committee recommends that all new dwellings and dwelling refurbishments should be legally required to have water meters installed in order that the amount of household water consumption is clear to users and as a means of effective leak detection and conservation.

It’s believed Right 2 Water TDs and Fianna Fáil opposed the submission, but it’s understood that Fine Gael might try to re-insert the line at later stage.

Both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil have called for the complete cessation of the water metering programme.

Plans to introduce tax relief on water preservation systems has also been scrapped from the working report.

The committee examining the future of the charges yesterday asked for an extension to consider the draft report. The main point of contention between the parties is whether householders should pay a charge or face a fine if they are found to abuse their water supply.

The committee has until 14 April to deliver its report. It will then go to the Dáil for a vote.

Read: So many questions… what’s happening with water charges?>

Poll: Are you in favour of water services remaining in public ownership?>

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