Is Government acting unconstitutionally with water services Bill?

29 June 2016

Alan Kelly TD, questions strongly whether the Government are acting constitutionally when it comes to the current Water Services Bill before the Dail.Deputy Kelly said: “Personally, I believe there is a strong possibility that this Bill is contrary to EU law, which has constitutional primacy over acts of the Oireachtas. I believe that Minister Coveney needs to confirm to the House that he is unconditionally certain that he is acting legally.“I have repeated numerous times the fact that we no longer have an EU derogation from Water Charges and this has been confirmed by Commissioner Vella this week. There is no legal basis whatsoever for scrapping water charges.“So given how clear this fact now is how can Minister Coveney bring forward legislation knowing full well that we don’t have a derogation on having water charges and therefore we can’t stop charging for them?“Has he received the advice of the Attorney General that he can proceed this way? I was always advised that legally we had no choice but to have water charges as our derogation was gone since 2010 so how could this advice have changed?“Maybe the Minister thinks that just suspending water charges will somehow camouflage the idea that they are getting rid of water charges? Has Minister Coveney asked the Attorney General if this is legally sound and that the EU Commission are happy with this? On the latter issue, I note yesterday in one interview, Minister Coveney said, ‘he hoped so’, not very encouraging.“Once this highly bogus legislation is passed I absolutely believe that the EU Commission will write to the Government questioning what the Government are doing and then post the standard 10 weeks, commence legal proceedings against Ireland.“One thing is guaranteed after all this. Given the definitive legal confirmation we have from the EU Commission and the terms of reference of this new expert Water Commission, there is already only one defined outcome available to the group and that is that water charges and the polluter pays principle are here to stay.“Given all that, I wish the Chair of the Group Joe O’Toole well in his task.”

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