Government reject idea of Irish Water poll

The Government has rejected that it has agreed to hold a referendum to keep Irish Water in public ownership.

Reports yesterday suggested that ministers agreed on Tuesday that a referendum motion would be put to the people, but several ministerial sources insisted there was “absolutely no discussion or decision” on a referendum.

“It simply not discussed and there was no Government decision,” said one minister.

The Cabinet did agreed to introduce legislation to implement the recommendations of the Oireachtas committee on water charges, which will provide refunds for householders who have paid the charge.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, government sources insisted a referendum on public ownership of water will require separate legislation and that has not gone before Cabinet for approval.

Such a move is being examined by the Attorney General’s office. The Government has allowed the early stages of an opposition private member’s bill providing for a referendum to pass, but reserved the right to amend it.

The bill approved on Tuesday will allow for the current billing regime to be discontinued, and provide for general tax to fund domestic water services. Under the new regime, some 70,000 households — 8% of customers — will face fines. According to Irish Water figures, this 8% accounts for 30% of domestic water used.

As a result of the decision to axe water charges for most homes, the bill will commit to an annual budget for the utility from Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy’s department.

The department will be asked to find €240m in lost revenue from the abolishing of charges, and will also be asked to provide capital funding to Irish Water. The bill will be followed by separate legislation to allow for a referendum. The Attorney General’s office is considering amendments to the wording put forward by Independents4Change TD Joan Collins to ensure group and private water schemes will not be pulled in.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, a government spokesman said those issues had not been resolved and separate legislation would be needed.


Related Articles

Government should also commit to date for water ownership referendum

Brendan Howlin calls for delay in water charge refunds

Green Party believes some people will not want their refund from Irish Water

€270m Irish Water payment 'not connected to refunds', says Government

More in this Section

Two die in Cork and Wicklow while working to repair storm damage

Banks facing fines for tracker mortgage scandal

Judge reveals €17,000 overcharging ‘to give heart to others’

Extra bill for HSE as delay hits €33m hospital system


Breaking Stories

Garda will not redact files for inquest into murdered Arlene Arkinson's death

UK government to help pay travel expenses for NI women travelling to England for abortion

First ever live broadcast of court proceedings in Ireland tomorrow

Environmental group launches court challenge to Government's National Mitigation Plan

Lifestyle

A helicopter put a piano on the 150-foot roof of Blarney Castle and other stories from the Cork Jazz Festival archives

Jazz Memories: Famous faces share their favourite moments

Live music review: The Horrors - Icy genius in a thrillingly intimate setting

Choosing a sheltered spot for Maples is vital

More From The Irish Examiner