herald

Thursday 19 October 2017

Greens want referendum to keep Irish Water public

Eamon Ryan
Eamon Ryan

THE Green Party is proposing that a referendum on the public ownership of Irish Water be held amid fears that the utility could be privatised in years to come.

Party Leader Eamon Ryan called on Opposition parties and the Government to back a campaign calling for a referendum that would prevent the sale of Irish Water.

He said that he is afraid that the company appears to have been set-up as a commercial body as opposed to a public one, and that a referendum would show the public that their "most important natural resource" is safe.

"We think that this is essential and something that needs to take place quickly to try and restore some trust in the Irish people in terms of the way Irish Water has been managed by the Government," said Mr Ryan.

"It is operated akin to a private company and the nature of the bonus payments and the commercial processes being put in place are already bringing it in the direction towards being a privatised company," he added.

Implications

Mr Ryan said that he was concerned about any possible implications privatisation could bring.

He said that it could lead to increased water costs and even reduced access to water as there would not be an onus on a private company to provide a public service.

"Water is a basic resource and it belongs to the people," he said.

"It should always belong to the people and once it starts to get treated as a profitability tool for a private company it is inequitable and isn't a proper use of resources," he added.

The Green Party leader also cited an example in the US where people have been cut off from receiving water because they have not paid their bills.

Last week, the United Nations spent three days in Detroit investigating why water shut-offs were necessary.

Mr Ryan said that an amendment to the Constitution would prevent this occurring in Ireland.

"I think what we have seen in Detroit is the worst example of this at the present time and that can happen under different companies," he said.

hnews@herald.ie

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