Coveney: We're paying attention to the water protests

Coveney: We're paying attention to the water protests

The Minister for Agriculture said the Government will take note of the number of people who took to the streets of Ireland yesterday in opposition to water charges.

Over 100,000 people took part in protest rallies up and down the country yesterday calling for the new charge to be scrapped.

Minister Simon Coveney acknowledged that the government has lost the support of some people because of how the introduction of water charges is being proposed.

He said he understands that people are unhappy but, he said Government will respond.

"I think that a lot of people are with us in terms of the need to change the water delivery system in Ireland," he said today.

"I think a lot of those people have been very frustrated by how the introduction of water charges is happening and is being proposed - and clearly, we've lost a lot of those people.

"A lot of people who would not normally be marching against the Government have [done so]. We need to take note of that - and we are."

Meanwhile, one of the largest trade unions in the country, SIPTU, is calling for a referendum to amend the constitution to prohibit the privatisation of the public water supply.

SIPTU said they want a mechanism to fully offset the cost of every households "normal need for water", while preserving the incentive for conservation.

"There are tens of thousands people who simply can't pay … we're drifting into the privatisation of the most essential public good that we have," said General President Jack O'Connor.

The union did not take part in yesterday's demonstrations - unlike their counterparts in Mandate and UNITE, as O'Connor said abolishing the charges entirely would mean water would be paid through general taxation - and end up being "at least twice as much more".

Reports this morning also say the Commisson for Energy Regulation will approve a €424 standard charge on those who fail to register their details with Irish Water for the purpose of claiming allowances.


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