Irish Water: IMPACT seeks referendum timetable

Union says new governance plans would enable privatisation

waterIMPACT has called on the Government to announce a timetable for a referendum to ensure that water services remain in public control, amid fears that proposed new governance structures would increase the risk of privatisation over the coming years.

The union says proposals before Government, which would create a single unitary organisation with no link to local authorities, would once again put water privatisation on the table

Officials from the largest trade union in local government will raise the issue in a meeting with the Irish Water Consultative Group – a union-management industrial relations forum – in Dublin today (Thursday). IMPACT says it will seek detailed information on Irish Water’s parent company Ervia’s proposal to create a single unitary organisation and sever service level agreements with local authorities, which continue to deliver most water and sewage services.

IMPACT national secretary Peter Nolan, who will lead the union side in today’s talks, said: “The creation of a unitary model could pave the way for privatisation of water and waste water services in Ireland, despite political commitments that they will remain in public ownership. This development underpins the need for a referendum, which would support the quality and affordability of water services into the future.

“A large majority of TDs support a referendum, yet it has not featured in the Government’s current legislative programme and was not included on the ‘indicative timetable for referendums’ published earlier this week. This is bound to feed the suspicion that both the Government and Ervia are trying to keep the option of future privatisation alive.”

Mr Nolan said that the public was entitled to a constitutional guarantee on the public ownership of water services. “It is alarming that no progress has been made on the matter in spite of the overwhelming support of the public and the Oireachtas on the matter,” he said