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Sinn Féin to oppose water charges every step of the way

24 January, 2012 - by Brian Stanley TD

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Environment, Community & Local Government, Brian Stanley TD, has today directly accused Minister of State with Responsibility for NewERA, Fergus O'Dowd TD of attempting to impose water charges and planning to then sell off Irish Water. However Deputy said the Minister’s attempt will be met with firm opposition from Sinn Féin and the communities we represent.

Speaking at today’s Dáil Environment Committee Deputy Stanley said:

“The minster is clearly committed to imposing water metering on households. There is no evidence that water metering works, unless of course this government wants to fatten up the water service and sell it off. The projected cost of the meter installation varies from €500m to €1.5billion. This money would be much better invested in water conservation and upgrading the water supply system. Despite 36% of our water being lost through leakage, capital investment in water is being cut from almost €435 million in 2011 to €331 million in 2012. It is a cut of nearly €200 million on the 2010 allocation, with more cuts planned until the budget is reduced to €266 million in 2016.

“Where water metering has been introduced in England and Wales it has failed to reduce water consumption. In Denmark, a country similar in population to our own, where water charges are in place, the cost of water to the household is as high as €700 per year. This cost will hit the least well off hardest.

“It needs to be seen in the context of a household charge, septic tank charge, increase in school transport, 2% increase in VAT and a reduction in fuel allowance. All attacks on poor and low income families. All the evidence suggests that metering is simply a bad idea being enforced by a government hell bent on making families pay for the current economic disaster that we find ourselves in. Sinn Féin will oppose water charges every step of the way both inside and outside the Dáil.

“Sinn Féin fully supports improving our water supply. Water is a resource. It is a resource which everyone needs. We need to a coordinated approach on the island of Ireland towards ensuring that water is brought to where it is needed, when it is needed. And indeed homes and communities are protected against the adverse effects of flooding from too much water.

“There are 34 local authorities supplying water to nearly two million households. On one hand the government is selling off semi state bodies like Coilte and parts of the ESB and yet on the other hand they intend to establish a new public utility Irish Water. It would be easier, more efficient and indeed more economical to use existing infrastructure to supply and distribute water. But the evidence indicates that the establishment of another semi state body along with water metering is an attempt to fully privatise our water.

“The minister is attempting to establish and invest public money in a new public utility, Irish Water, make it economically viable and then sell it off sell it off to bail out the banks.” ENDS

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