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Charging schools for water indefensible - McDonald

5 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has described today’s news that schools are to pay water charges at commercial rates from 2010 as an indefensible act by the current Fianna Fáil led government.

The Dublin MEP said:

“Minister Hanafin’s buck passing in today’s media is unacceptable. Fianna Fáil during its previous reigns in government had ample opportunity to secure an exemption for schools from the European Water Directive. Securing a domestic exemption simply did not go far enough. Parents will now have to pay the water charges as under resourced schools with already hefty debts will be left with no option but to pass on the cost to parents.

“Minister Hanafin says the water rates must be charged to meet EU water conservation levels. I put it to the Minister an alternative solution would be for her government to invest in upgrading  the antiquated water pipes system throughout Dublin that leaks gallons upon gallons of water every minute of every day. This crisis is yet another example of a government without vision and unable to forward plan for this country’s needs.

“If the Minister has in fact received legal advice on this issue with regard to the EU Water Directive I call on her to publish the findings. When I raised this issue in the Parliament I was told that member states had a certain degree of latitude in its implementation. I intend to pursue this matter in Europe to seek clarification.

“This issue also examples why we need to consider very carefully the forthcoming referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. This Treaty contains the most substantial transfer of powers from member states to the European Council and Commission to date. It gives 105 new competences to the European Union and a further 68 areas which will move from consensus decision making at the European Council to majority voting.

“If we, as a member state of the EU, cannot decide against charging our children’s schools for using such a basic need as water it is simply does not make sense for us to give even greater powers to EU. In short it is simply not in the national interest for us to Vote Yes in the forthcoming Lisbon Treaty referendum.”   CRÍOCH







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