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Government water commission in crisis

5 July, 2016 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Water Eoin Ó Broin has said that the Governments Expert Commission on the future of water charges is in ‘crisis’ following the resignation of its chairperson Joe O’Toole. Mr O’Toole was forced to resign before the Commission had even met following controversial comments on the issue of water charges.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Minister Coveney said that the purpose of establishing an expert independent Commission on the future of domestic water charges was to take the heat out of the political debate. He claimed that the Commission would allow for a rational discussion on how best to fund our water services.

“However only a week since the Minister announced the membership of the Commission its chairperson Joe O’Toole has resigned. His resignation was announced following a conversation with Minister Coveney on the controversy.

“Joe O’Toole is perfectly entitled to hold strong views on the issue of water charges. However his comments during a number of media interviews undermined both his own role as Chairperson and the Commission itself.

“His description of the purpose of the Commission as designed to ‘find a solution that will have enough sugar on it to make the medicine go down easily’ confirms what many of us suspected, namely that the Governments intention is to use the Commission to force water charges through despite public and political opposition.

“Minister Coveney also admitted today that the Terms of Reference were not open to amendment despite proposals by Sinn Féin and others to broaden the scope of its work to include a review of all aspects of water and sanitation services and to include issues such as water poverty.

“The comments by and resignation of Joe O’Toole combined with the Government’s refusal to amend the terms of reference have seriously undermined the Commission in the eyes of many people.

“There is no need for this commission, water charges should be dealt with democratically by the Dáil.” 


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