Government must commit to date for water ownership referendum

26 September 2017

As the Government met today to discuss up to eight planned referendums, Labour spokesperson on Water Jan O’Sullivan has expressed her surprise at the failure of the Government to advance a referendum to ensure that our water infrastructure remains in public ownership. The Labour Party TD Willie Penrose first proposed such a referendum in his bill published in July 2016.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“A key recommendation of the Joint Committee on the Future Funding of Water was that a referendum would be held to ensure our water infrastructure remains in public ownership.

“It is bizarre that while considering the possible dates for holding votes on future constitutional amendments that no consideration was given to holding a referendum on water infrastructure.

“There is cross party consensus on this issue, and a draft wording has also been discussed at the committee.

“It was reported just a week ago that the Attorney General’s office was examining this issue. The Water Services Bill has been published but we have yet to hear when the Government plans to hold this vote.

“My colleague Willie Penrose published a Bill in July that would ensure that the electricity, gas and water networks continued to remain in public ownership.

“It is vital that citizens around the country have absolute confidence that the water infrastructure will remain in public ownership.

“The Labour Party will now move to reintroduce our Bill.”


Notes to Editors:

Willie Penrose TD proposed a bill on 7th July 2016 entitled ‘Thirty-fifth Amendment of The Constitution (Public Ownership of Certain Assets) Bill 2016’. The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Constitution so as to provide for the retention of certain public utilities in public ownership. If the 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 own our gas or electricity transmission and distribution networks or the public water supply and waste water treatment infrastructure.
This would have inserted the following text in the constitution:
‘The electricity and gas transmission and distribution networks and the public water supply and waste water treatment services shall be maintained in public ownership.’

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