Thursday, 23 February 2012

Wicklow County Council votes to reject Water Charges and the establishment of a National Water Authority

Wicklow Sinn Féin county councillors John Brady and John Snell successfully tabled a  motion opposing the establishment of the new national utility company Irish Water and had it adopted by Wicklow county council. The motion was put forward by the Sinn Féin councillors at the special meeting of Wicklow county council that washeld on Wednesday to discuss the issue of the establishment of a National Water Authority. The Sinn Féin motion also rejected the government plans to install water meters and start charging for water,the motion also went on to call on the government to invest the €500 million earmarked for the installation of water meters on upgrading the states leaking and outdated water infrastructure.

Speaking after the meeting councillor John Brady said "On Wednesday Wicklow county council convened a special meeting of the council to discuss the government plans to establish a new national water utility company named 'Irish Water' I have major concerns about creating this monster which will see the function of planning and supplying water to the public removed from the 34 local authorities that currently have the function of supply water to nearly 2 million households throughout the state. This function and all the public assets including the infrastructure will be handed over to this new company Irish Water later this year"

"This company will roll out the installation of water meters throughout the state at a cost of €500 million and then set the rates for water charges. I genuinely believe and evidence shows that this will ultimately lead to a full privatisation of the nations water. On one hand the government are selling off semi state bodies such as Coillte and parts of ESB and Bord Gais and on the other hand they intend to establish a new public utility Irish Water" continued Brady

Cllr John Snell said "The creation of this new quango which will ultimately be privatised will install domestic water meters starting later this year at estimated cost of €500 million. They will then set the charges for the water, these charges will result in more hardship for families who are already struggling and hurting as a result of Fine Gael and Labour policies. In Denmark with a population similar to our own, water metering is in place and the average cost is €715 perhousehold. We oppose all stealth taxes and charging for water is no different. Water is the most basic of human rights and access to it should not be based on ones ability to pay for it"

Cllr Brady went onto say "At the special meeting of the county council Sinn Fein proposed a motion opposing the establishment of Irish Water,we believe that local authorities are best positioned to plan for, and deliver water infrastructure and not a company which will only plan schemes that provide the most in financial returns. The motion also called on the government to scrap its plans to introduce domestic water charges and alternatively use the €500 million that's earmarked for installing water meters on upgrading the states outdated and leaking water infrastructure. In Wicklow its estimated that 24% of all water is lost through leaking pipes and in some counties its as high as 45%. Tackling this problem alone would save millions through conserving the resource"

Cllr. Snell concluded "I am delighted that Wicklow county council voted to support the Sinn Féin motion which means that is is now the policy of the council to oppose the creation of the national utility company Irish Water and furthermore it is also the policy of the council to reject the government policy of forcing people to pay for water. The motion will also now form part of the submission from Wicklow county council to the government which is undertaking a public consultation process prior to establishing this quango and handing over the functions of water to it" Ends

The Sinn Féin motion was proposed by Cllr. John Brady and seconded by Cllr. John Snell. It was adopted by 8 votes for, 7 against and 3 abstained.

The full motion reads that

"Wicklow county council opposes the creation of the National utility company Irish Water and believes that one of the primary functions of local authorities is to plan for and deliver clean water to the public, this function should stay at a local level where it can be best delivered. Furthermore the council believes that the creation of this utility company is an attempt to fully privatise the nations water and Wicklow county council is totally opposed to any attempt to do so. We also call on the government to scrap the plan to introduce domestic water charges, and to alternatively use the €500 million for installing water meters, on upgrading the states water infrastructure"

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