The Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment, Community and Local Government, Laois/Offaly TD Brian Stanley, has said that Sinn Féin will do all its power to defeat the government’s Water Services Bill which was published last week,
Deputy Stanley said, “The publication of the bill today confirms the intention of this government to charge households for their water from 1 January 2014.
“The bill is fundamentally flawed and draconian in its content. It establishes Irish Water as a subsidiary of An Bord Gáis Eireann, a company which this government said they intend to sell off. This new company will be given power to install water meters and charge families for the water they use. This charge means the public will be paying three times for the water they drink. Firstly in their general taxes, secondly through this new charge and finally they will pay through the National Pension Reserve Fund which is being used to fund the installation of water meters.
“The legislation allows Irish Water to access information on householders from sources including the Revenue Commissioners, Department of Social Protection, local authorities and the Private Residential Tenancies Board. This is clearly in breach of privacy and civil liberties. It also gives powers to Irish Water allowing it to be exempt from seeking planning permission to lay water pipes. But most worryingly it gives it ‘power to interrupt water supply’.
“The installation of water meters will prove to be costly and totally inefficient. Experts including the Irish Academy of Engineers and the Local Authority Professional Officers have given estimates of up to €1.2 billion to cover the cost of the installation. Meanwhile in England, private companies are still attempting to install water meters twenty years after water charges were first introduced.
“This bill has nothing to do with water conservation and everything to do with taking more power away from local authorities, centralising it and preparing for the full privatisation of our water service. “Sinn Féin has actively campaigned against water charges and we will be redoubling our efforts now that this bill has been published. The government can expect strong resistance from hard-pressed householders right across this state and Sinn Féin will be standing shoulder to shoulder with them.”