Housing Minister accused of delaying 2016 bill to prevent privatisation of Irish Water

Sinn Féin TD Eoin O Broin.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has deliberately sought to delay a bill aimed at ensuring Irish Water remains a public company, the Opposition has claimed.

Tomorrow, the Oireachtas Committee will begin third stage deliberations on the 2016 bill, which has not yet been passed.

Left-wing TDs, at a press conference today, said Fine Gael is seeking to delay the will of the Dáil and is leaving the door open to future privatisation of the single water utility company.

“We are fed up with the delays, we want to proceed,” said Sinn Féin TD Eoin O Broin. “Absolutely they are seeking to delay this. Joan Collins' bill was passed in October 2016.

“At the committee stage, the minister said he wanted time to consult with the Attorney General. That was a year ago.

“There has been an endless stream of correspondence between the minister and the committee over his amendments. But a year on, it is really a long period of time to bring amendments."

At the same press conference Ms Collins said that, despite the Dáil unanimously passing her bill to retain Irish Water in public ownership, the Government is seeking to deny that.

“Two and a half years ago, the Water in Public Ownership Bill was passed with no opposition in the Dáil. We are still awaiting its progression through committee stage,” she said.

“The minister, in March, was given two weeks to come back on the bill and we are still waiting. We have tried to cooperate with him. We are moving the bill through its third stage tomorrow at committee. We would encourage the minister to bring any amendments he wants.”

Mr Ó Broin expressed his anger with the further postponement of Committee Stage of the Water in Public Ownership Bill that was due to take place tomorrow.

“The Committee Stage of Water in Public Ownership Bill has been delayed yet again at Minister Murphy’s request. This is clearly a delaying tactic by the government as it clearly does not want a referendum to ensure water services remain in public ownership,” he said.

“This Bill has been deferred for long enough. I cannot understand why any member of the opposition would have conceded to the Minister’s request for a further delay.”

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