Sandra McLellan TD calls for referendum on public ownership of water services
Sinn Féin Cork East TD Sandra McLellan has today urged the government to call a referendum to prohibit the privatisation of water services in the state.
Speaking during the second stage debate on the party’s Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (No. 3) Bill 2014 which aims to retain water services in public ownership, Deputy McLellan said:
“Sinn Féin has a proven track record of opposition to water charges, after the abolishment of such in the north and the consistent campaigning against their introduction in this state.
“We believe strongly that the setting up of Irish Water is a step towards the privatisation of our water services.
“This just cannot be allowed to happen.
“Water is a human right not a commodity to be sold off for competitive enterprise.
“If the government is claiming that no such privatisation will take place, then it will have no qualms about holding a referendum in order to enshrine it under public ownership in our constitution.
“Water charges are but another burden on the litany of charges imposed upon hard pressed citizens who face each week with financial uncertainty and insecurity.
“In rural Ireland, thousands of people use group water schemes to provide clean and drinkable water for themselves and their community.
“Some own private wells that are built and maintained by private individuals. The installation, upkeep and maintenance of this costs thousands of euro.
“Water has already been paid for through centralised tax increases but because the last Fianna Fáil and Green Party government gave a blank cheque to our failing banks, this money has been diverted to patch over the cracks of a severely broken financial system.
“Not only that but after promises of not “one red cent” going back into banks after the 2011 General Election, Fine Gael and Labour have carried on with the Fianna Fail agenda.
“Those in rural areas forced to seek their own drinkable water have already been paying twice for many years. This is quite simply outrageous.
“Water should be a public service that provides for all of the public.”