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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019

'We don't want to privatise Irish Water but no-one believes politicians when we say that'

The Fine Gael MEP believes legislation is a more sensible option.

Image: Niall Carson

FINE GAEL MEP Brian Hayes has dismissed calls for a referendum on water ownership as “just a bit of theatre”.

This is in stark contrast to Labour ministers who have mooted that a vote could be possible.

Earlier this week, Minister Alex White said that the proposed referendum was a “reasonable suggestion”, but would require significant work.

Minister White is to bring the proposal to Cabinet after Labour senators voted with Fianna Fáil on a motion to hold the referendum.

Speaking to European Parliament Radio, Hayes described the referendum as ‘unwarranted’

He added:

I don’t think they’ve really thought it through. What happens if it goes down? Does that mean Irish people are in favour of privatisation?

The former Junior Minister said he believes the “sensible” measure of introducing a law where a two-thirds majority is required in the Dáil to change the legal status of Irish Water would be appropriate.

Hayes stressed that no one is in favour of privatising Irish Water, but that “no one believes politicians” when they say that.

The Green Party launched a campaign late last month for a referendum to guarantee public ownership of water services.

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

“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,” party leader Eamon Ryan said.

Alan Kelly has stressed that current laws do not permit that Irish Water can be privatised.

Read: Referendum on Irish Water could happen but needs “an awful lot more work” — White >

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Nicky Ryan

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