Public ownership referendum needed to avoid another Eircom style privatisation

07 July 2016

Earlier today in the Dáil on behalf of the Labour Party I introduced the 35th Amendment of the Constitution (Public Ownership of Certain Assets) Bill 2016, which will seek to amend the Constitution so as to provide for the retention of certain specified public utilities in public ownership, by preventing the sale of state assets without a referendum.

The reason this constitutional amendment is of importance is that it seeks to maintain the essential public services of the electricity and gas transmission and distribution networks, the public water supply and waste water treatment services in public ownership.

If this amendment is approved at a referendum it will not be possible for the Oireachtas to pass legislation to approve the privatisation of the companies that provide these essential public services.

We surely should learn the lesson of Eircom, and the huge adverse impact that this had on the utility to develop an effective broadband network infrastructure throughout this country and especially in rural areas.

I believe as indeed does my Party, that as a consequence of recent events, that it is now vital we copper-fasten the public ownership of public utilities by giving them protection at constitutional level, and I trust that when this Bill goes the before the Dáil for debate, that it will receive cross party support. 

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