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Government never had to introduce water charges – Cullinane

4 August, 2015 - by David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has responded to government claims that Irish Water could not be dismantled by reiterating that the government never had to introduce water charges or establish Irish Water in the first instance and that there is no legal block from removing either one.

Senator Cullinane held that the Water Framework Directive is primarily focused on the prevention of pollution of water supply and Ireland would not face sanction as long as it lived up to that requirement.

Senator Cullinane said:

“The EU Water Framework Directive that is the basis for the government’s introduction of water charges begins with a simple acknowledgment; ‘Water is not a commercial product’.

“The derogation against the introduction of water charges that Ireland enjoyed is still in effect. Our government has simply chosen the easier path of introducing another tax on working families to spare their blushes in Europe.

“Article 9.4 of the Directive clearly states that ‘Member States shall not be in breach of this Directive if they decide in accordance with established practices not to apply the provisions of paragraph 1’, namely the introduction of water charges.

“The Directive also acknowledges that ‘Water policy requires a transparent, effective and coherent legislative framework’. To say that Irish Water has displayed either efficiency or coherency in anything bar wasting vast amounts of money would strain credulity.

“The ultimate aim of the Directive is to achieve the elimination of priority hazardous substances. Ireland can achieve this with a simple public utility, established on current best practice that will supply every home in the country with clean, fresh water. That would satisfy the requirements of the Directive and it is what the people of Ireland need and it is what they want. You don’t need to spend €86 million in consultancy costs to know that.

“While the government dithers over the increasingly embarrassing fiasco that is Irish Water, Sinn Féin is committed to its abolition.  If given a mandate to remove water charges, Sinn Féin will not hesitate to do so.” 

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