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Minister Murphy trying to railroad Water Bill through Committee - Eoin Ó Broin TD

19 October, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin Water spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has accused the Minister for Housing of “interfering with the scheduling of the Oireachtas Committee scrutiny of the Water Bill 2017” and of “trying to railroad the Bill through Committee to meet his own public relations timeline."
Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Today the Dáil referred the Water Services Bill 2017 to the Oireachtas Housing Committee for detailed scrutiny. Before the Bill had even passed Second Stage Minister Murphy, with the assistance of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs, were trying to railroad the Bill through Committee. He is doing this solely to meet his own public relations timeline.

“On publication of this Bill, Minister Murphy announced that he wanted refunds paid by Christmas. As a member of the Committee I have no issue with this so long as it doesn’t undermine our ability to properly scrutinise the other aspects of the Bill.

“On a number of occasions in the past both water and planning legislation was railroaded through the Oireachtas to meet Government timelines despite the Bills including drafting errors and unintended consequences. 

“The Water Service Bill 2017 is a significant Bill that seeks to introduce a charging regime for so called excessive use.

"Important issues such as how so-called excessive use is calculated, how exemptions from the charge will operate, what the charging regime will be and how it will be enforced for households that have no meter are all complex and contentious issues. The Committee must be given sufficient time to scrutinise all of this.

“The Committee agreed to dispense with pre-legislative scrutiny. However, despite the objections of a number of members the deadline for submission and consideration of amendments to the Bill was shortened and additional Committee meetings were added to the schedule for next week despite the fact that they clash with other Oireachtas Commitments of key Committee members.

"In my own case the Committee scheduled for 5.15 on Thursday next clashed with the Oral Questions with the Minister for Housing at 6pm on the same day. The fact that Fianna Fáil are facilitating him in this is both disappointing and unsurprising.“It is yet another example of this minority Government sacrificing substance for spin. Minister Murphy is undermining the ability of an Oireachtas Committee to undertake our important legislative responsibility.”

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