Coveney must broaden water commission’s terms of reference and extend deadline for applications
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on Minister Simon Coveney to ‘broaden the Expert Commission on Water Services terms of reference’. The Dublin Mid-West TD also called on the Minister to extend the deadline for applications to the Commission saying ‘a one week call for applications is simply not sufficient.’
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“The terms of reference for the Expert Commission on Domestic Public Water Services are too narrow. It is clear that they have been designed to direct the works of the Commission in a particular way.
“Firstly the Commission, if it is to have any value, should be tasked to look at the funding and delivery of all water and sanitation services. This should include an examination of what is the best model for delivering high quality water services on the basis of need and not ability to pay.
“Unfortunately the Government has restricted the Commission to looking exclusively at the funding for domestic water services. There is also a clear attempt to direct the commission in favour of an off balance sheet model of funding water services which would require the continuation of water charges.
“The terms of reference should be expanded to included issues such as how best to avoid water poverty; how to increase water conservation through investment in green technologies; how to ensure that water and sanitation services are kept in public ownership and are fully accountable and transparent.
“The Commission will also require a broader range of skills and experience than that proposed in the Government's terms of reference. It should seek to involve professionals with regulatory, operational, management and environmental expertise in water or other utilities; economic and academic expertise; workers rights and consumer interest expertise; and anti-poverty advocacy and policy expertise.
“It is deeply disappointing that the Minister only gave five working days from the publication of the terms of reference to allow people to apply to join the Commission. One gets the impression that the Government is trying to restrict membership. If the Minister does not want this impression to remain he should extend the deadline.
“I have written to Minister Coveney suggesting specific changes to the terms of reference and will be urging him to consider Sinn Féin’s proposals. If he refuses to do so it will be a clear indication that this commission is nothing more than a fig leaf to facilitate the Fianna Fáil Fine Gael coalition arrangement rather than a serious attempt to deal with the debacle that is Irish Water.”