Press Release

SIPTU General President calls for referendum on public ownership of water

Date Released: 02 November 2014

SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, has called on the Government to promote a referendum to amend the constitution to prohibit the privatisation of public water supply.

Jack O’Connor said: “SIPTU supports the call for a constitutional change which will enshrine the public ownership of water and its supply. This call, which has been made by the Green Party and a number of progressive organisations, will end any drift towards the privatisation of water.

“None of the major political parties would openly support privatisation, some because they are deeply ideologically opposed to it, others because it would be so unpopular. Nevertheless, it will still come about by stealth and very quickly too if the citizens of Ireland do not vote for such a constitutional change.

“If Irish Water is unable to collect its revenues it will become insolvent. Then the government of the day will be faced with tax increases and public spending cuts associated with putting the costs of water supply back on the State's balance sheet. The use of ‘private money’ would soon emerge as the solution to such a funding crisis and the creeping privatisation of the service would then ensue. A constitutional amendment could preclude such a tragedy".

Jack O’Connor also reiterated the SIPTU call for a mechanism to fully offset the cost of every households ‘normal need for water’, while preserving the incentive for conservation.

He added: “It's not rocket science. A refundable tax credit is the way to do it. Fiddling around with the issue won't cut the mustard. It will simply prolong the crisis. In the end, and possibly very quickly, Irish Water won't be able to collect its revenues thus rendering it insolvent and we will sleepwalk into the privatisation of public water supply”.


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