Water committee prevented from debating referendum proposal- O’Sullivan

25 October 2017

Labour member of the Oireachtas Water Committee Deputy Jan O’Sullivan has expressed her surprise and disappointment that two of her amendments to the Water Services Bill have been ruled out of order by the Committee chair.

The Labour amendments called for a referendum to ensure our water supply and waste water treatment services remain in public ownership.

Deputy O’Sullivan commented:

“I’m really surprised by this decision to rule our amendments out of order and actually find it quite bizarre, especially considering the first paragraph of the explanatory memorandum to the Water Services Bill explicitly states that ‘the majority of the recommendations on the [Committee] report can be introduced’.

“One of the most important- and unanimous- recommendations of the Oireachtas Water Committee, of which I was a member, was that a referendum should be held to keep our water infrastructure in public ownership.

“In his speech at second stage on the Water Services Bill 2017, Minister Murphy said that the Bill ‘reflects the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the future funding of Domestic Water Services, which was adopted in April by both Houses of the Oireachtas’.

“In fact, the Minister’s Bill does no such thing.

“In its report the Joint Committee was unanimous that it –

‘supports the concept of a referendum on the issue of water services continuing in public ownership and believes that public ownership should be enshrined in the Constitution as an extra measure of protection against any privatisation’.

“My amendment today would have given effect to the Joint Committee’s recommendation and given the public the reassurance that there are no plans to privatise our water services.

“The Minister now needs to state what the Government’s intentions are and to implement this critical committee recommendation.”

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