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Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil back room water deal to be scrutinised at Committee – Ó Broin

25 October, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has cautioned Minister Eoghan Murphy against attempting to rush the Water Services Bill 2017 through the Housing Committee. The Water Services Bill 2017 is at Committee stage today.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“This is quite a technical Bill where issues such as the so called excess charge, calculations for average household use, a metric charge for so-called excess use and medical waivers and allowances for larger family sizes all need to be teased out. This Bill is about more than legislating for water charge refunds.

“It is also significant that the Bill fails to address key water committee recommendations including; fair treatment for group water scheme members, conservation measures and a referendum enshrining the public ownership of water services in the constitution.

“The government is trying to prevent sufficient scrutiny of this important legislation. The reason we schedule time to debate these Bills is to ensure that the legislation is legally sound and that there are no errors or unintended consequences.

“The rental legislation that was rushed through before Christmas last year was flawed. This was as a result of the then-Minister Simon Coveney railroading through the Bill without sufficient time for drafting or for scrutiny.

“Minister Murphy is intent on repeating the mistakes of this predecessor. He needs to ram through this legislation to meet the arbitrary deadline he announced for refunds this Christmas. This deadline is now serious doubt and I’m not sure if he has thought through the logistics of refunding nearly 1 million households in two months.

“Sinn Féin believes those who paid their Bill should be refunded. However, the legislation to facilitate this and other important measures should be thoroughly scrutinised.

“Fianna Fáil need the legislation passed as quickly as possible to save face after their humiliating climb down on the introduction of an excess charging regime.

“I hope the Minister will engage constructively with the Committee today and that he will listen to the important amendments and discussions put forward by his fellow Oireachtas members in the Committee.” 

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