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Minister Coveney drags heels on public ownership of water – Ó Broin

4 May, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Water Eoin Ó Broin TD has described todays committee meeting as “deeply disappointing” and has accused Minister Coveney of “dragging his heels” on the public ownership of water. The Minister attended the Housing Committee this morning as scrutiny of the Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Water in Public Ownership) (No. 2) Bill 2016 commenced.

Speaking after the meeting, Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Six months after this important Bill passed second stage in the Dáil, it was up for pre-legislative scrutiny this morning in the Housing Committee. The Bill seeks to amend to Constitution to ensure that water services are retained in public ownership.  A matter of huge importance to Irish citizens based on the submissions we received to the Special Oireachtas Committee on Water.

“The attitude of the Minister this morning was disappointing. It is clear he is trying to delay the progress of this Bill as he attempted to muddy the waters this morning.  Definitive responses to questions on what specific concerns his department had as to the ‘unintended consequences of this Bill’ were not forthcoming.  As the meeting went on, it became clear that the Minister did not have answers to our questions, which was deeply frustrating.

“Six months ago, the Minister did not oppose the passage of this Bill past second stage. Five months ago, the Expert Commission on Water, which was established by the Minister, recommended that a constitutional provision on public ownership of water services should be addressed by the Special Oireachtas Committee.  One month ago the cross-party Special Oireachtas Committee made such a recommendation.

“Proposing to amend the Constitution is something all committee members take seriously. The Water in Public Ownership Bill requires detailed and thorough scrutiny. However, the fact that the Minister only sought legal advice ‘a few weeks ago’ clearly demonstrates that his intention is to slow down the passage of this Bill.

“This is simply not good enough and is another example of the Government delaying legislation that it is opposed to despite a clear majority of the Dáil wanting the laws to pass.” 

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