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Not unusual for public ownership of Water Services to receive constitutional guarantee - Lynn Boylan MEP

7 November, 2016 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has said that it is not unusual for European Union member states to provide a constitutional guarantee for public ownership of water services.

Boylan made the comments today as she called for maximum support for a Bill that will come before the Dáil this Wednesday calling for referendum to insert the public ownership of water services into the constitution .

She said;

"Enshrining access to clean water and sanitation in our constitution and protecting this access for future generations is surely an initiative that all parties and TDs can get behind.

"The only real barrier to supporting the Bill on Wednesday would be if a party, or parties, see the privatisation of our water services as something to consider. I know that in the past Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes strangely referred to the call for an Irish referendum as 'unwarranted and bizarre'."

"However, the truth is that the idea of providing a constitutional guarantee for the public ownership of water services is not unprecedented or unusual in the European context. Over 90% of citizens in both Italy and Greece voted in referendums to ensure that water privatisation systems were not implemented. The Netherlands passed a law in 2004 banning private sector provision of water supply. Furthermore, France has returned control of its water services to municipal level due to transparency issues and rising costs.

"I am of the firm view that the Dáil must afford the people the opportunity to insert public ownership of water services into our constitution. The government and Fianna Fáil are not exempt from that responsibility and therefore they should support the bill on Wednesday.

"There shouldn't be any reluctance to hold such a referendum if there are no plans to fully privatise water services in this state."

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