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Sinn Féin tables anti-water charges motion in Dáil

13 June, 2011 - by Brian Stanley TD

Speaking on the Sinn Féin anti-water charges motion which will be heard in the Dáil on Thursday, Environment Spokesperson Deputy Brian Stanley said that the government must abandon its plans to charge people for water which is a basic human right.
The Laois-Offaly TD said;
“The Sinn Féin motion opposes the proposed introduction of water charges and calls on the Government to abandon these plans. These proposed charges will only add to the huge burden of debt which already hangs over citizens’ heads. We have seen ruthless Government cuts to services, massive unemployment rates and a huge increase in the level of personal and mortgage debt. People simply cannot afford to keep paying for this Government and the previous Government’s mistakes.
“On Thursday afternoon my party will table a motion which calls on Fine Gael and Labour to abandon their plans to impose water charges on households. We are calling for the Government to stop their plans to spend between €500 million and €1 billion on the installation of water meters. This money would be put to far better use upgrading the antiquated distribution network which would more than pay for itself as well as being a much needed job creation mechanism.
“We believe that the central taxation system is the only appropriate funding mechanism for domestic water.
“This is an important motion and I am calling on both Government parties to stand true to their pre-election promises and reject these unfair regressive stealth taxes. We are calling on Labour in particular to not be party to the implementation of these charges which will place an unbearable burden on many working families.”
Note to editors: Full text of motion below
Sinn Féin Private Members Business Motion for Wednesday 15th June, 2011
That the Dáil –
Affirms that access to water and sewerage services for domestic use is a universally recognised and basic human right
- Acknowledges that the right to water includes the right to clean and safe water, the right to equitable access to water without discrimination (including on grounds of income), and the right to freedom from contamination or arbitrary disconnection of the water supply.
- Recognises that water is a valuable resource that is expensive to treat and distribute and that everyone has a duty to conserve it;
- Believes that responsibility, including operational responsibility, for water production, treatment and distribution must remain with local authorities and within full public ownership;
- Affirms that public authorities must take effective management decisions to protect and improve water quality, and to promote and ensure water conservation and sustainability in an equitable manner consistent with the principle of progressivity.
- Rejects the creeping privatization of our most vital resource evidenced by the preferred option status of Design, Build and Operate contracts with private companies in the area of water production and treatment services;
- Alerts the government to the danger that the current policy trajectory will shortly bring us to a situation where water services are entirely in private hands leaving the Irish public vulnerable to the profiteering price hikes and water poverty that have been witnessed elsewhere in the world, and particularly in countries under strong IMF influence such as Argentina and Bolivia;
- Notes the record of privatisation of water services in other jurisdictions is abysmal demonstrating that the pursuit of such policies are not in the best interest of the people of this State;
- Notes that the introduction of metering with any form of charge for domestic users signals the end of the Irish derogation from the EU’s Water Directive which exempts only our current practice from the full cost recovery principle, the consequence of which would be much higher household water bills than those currently signalled by government
- Condemns the chronic and on-going lack of investment in our water infrastructure, especially during the time of budget surpluses, with the result that up to 58% of treated water is lost by the distribution network before it even reaches households
- Considers that the €500 million which the government intend spending on the installation of household water meters, rising to €1 billion due to the funding options being considered, would be better spent upgrading the antiquated distribution network and such investment would more than pay for itself in a relatively short time and both retain and create jobs in the local economy
- Notes that local authorities have substantial funding in the Water Services Capital Accounts which they are prevented from using due to the conditions imposed by the European Growth and Stability Pact
- Promotes the establishment of an All-Ireland Water and Sewerage Authority the purpose of which would be only to ensure that water quality and environmental standards are met and to facilitate co-operation between local authorities on the island, reduce costs and maximize efficiency, leaving the operational responsibility with local authorities
- Rejects the use of stealth taxes and other forms of regressive a funding mechanism for domestic water whether said stealth taxes consist of a flat charge under any name or a flat rate charge with a meter, and
Affirms that the central taxation system is the only appropriate funding mechanism for domestic water.
Brian Stanley, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Gerry Adams, Michael Colreavy, Seán Crowe, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Mary Lou McDonald, Sandra McLellan, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Jonathan O'Brien, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Peadar Tóibín.

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