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Boylan addresses international conference on Right to Water

22 March, 2017 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has addressed a high level international conference in Barcelona on the human right to water where she was a keynote speaker.

At the conference, entitled “Water, a Common Good: Challenges and Future”, MEP Boylan’s keynote address focused on water as a human right and the experiences of Ireland and Europe.

Speaking after the conference MEP Boylan said: 

“It was fantastic and humbling experience to be asked to give a keynote address at this excellent conference as an expert on the situation regarding provision of water in Ireland and Europe.

“The opportunity allowed me to speak to the international guests of the direction water provision has taken in the EU and the nefarious role of the Commission in setting the agenda. I outlined how the EU has sought to impose a neoliberal market based approach to water provision and how the desire to commodify water as if it were no different from any other product increased in the fallout of the economic crisis.

“I explained to the attendees the different experiences in relation to water provision across many European countries; for example, the pressure which Greece and Italy came under from the Troika and the ECB to privatise and liberalise their water services.

“I used the address to speak at length on Ireland’s situation and the difficulties and complexities those who opposed water charges and privatisation experienced. Many were shocked to hear of the complex web between Government, the EU, private business, the media, and the ideological and repressive state apparatus around the issue.

“Similarly, they were aghast at the underhand tactics of the EU Commission in overtly taking sides and their efforts to undermine the Right2Water movement in Ireland by briefing journalists off the record on certain issues.

“The overwhelming evidence presented at the conference was that privatisation of water has failed to deliver for citizens, rather it generally leads to higher prices for citizens and poorer quality as profits are diverted to shareholders and investment in infrastructure dries up. 

“In November 2016, Slovenia made history by being the first EU country to enshrine in its constitution the right of its citizens to access to clean water. If Slovenia can do it, so can Ireland and the other 27 EU member states. 

“I concluded by ensuring the attendees that the civil campaign against water charges in Ireland and the campaign to have water enshrined in public ownership and recognised as a human right would continue and that perhaps next year I could inform them of our victory.” 

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