SIPTU wants Govt to keep Irish Water in public ownership

SIPTU wants Govt to keep Irish Water in public ownership

SIPTU President, Jack O’Connor, has called on the Government to hold a referendum to change the Constitution to stop the privatisation of the public water supply.

Jack O’Connor said the union supports the call for a constitutional change to enshrine the public ownership of water.

He said: "This call, which has been made by the Green Party and a number of other progressive organisations, will end any drift towards the privatisation of water.

"None of the major political parties would openly support privatisation, some because they are deeply ideologically opposed to it, others because it would be so unpopular. Nevertheless, it will still come about by stealth and very quickly too if the citizens of Ireland do not vote for such a constitutional change."

The union leader also said that the Coalition could be forced into tax increases and public spending cuts if Irish Water is not be able to "collect its revenues to a sufficient degree".

He said: "If Irish Water is unable to collect its revenues it will become insolvent. Then the government of the day will be faced with tax increases and public spending cuts associated with putting the costs of water supply back on the State's balance sheet.

"The use of private money would soon emerge as the solution to such a funding crisis and the creeping privatisation of the service would then ensue. A constitutional amendment could preclude such a tragedy."

Jack O’Connor also called for a mechanism to fully offset the cost of every household's "normal need for water", while preserving the incentive for conservation.

He said: "It's not rocket science. A refundable tax credit is the way to do it. Fiddling around with the issue won't cut the mustard. It will simply prolong the crisis.

"In the end, and possibly very quickly, Irish Water won't be able to collect its revenues thus rendering it insolvent and we will sleepwalk into the privatisation of public water supply."


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