Coveney insists Irish Water will not be scrapped

//Coveney insists Irish Water will not be scrapped

Coveney insists Irish Water will not be scrapped

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There were protests against water charges around the country on Saturday There were protests against water charges around the country on Saturday The Economic Management Council is expected to address the issues around what charges people will face The Economic Management Council is expected to address the issues around what charges people will face

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said there is no question of Irish Water being abolished.

He said that too much had been invested in the setting up of the utility, but insisted that the Government would learn from the mistakes made in its establishment.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Coveney said: “There’s one certainty, and that’s that Irish Water won’t be scrapped.

“Irish Water has spent a lot of money to set up a very large new company, which is going to remain in public ownership, and is going to provide water in a much more cost-effective and efficient manner in the future.

“But I think we need to learn from some of the mistakes that have been made over the last six or eight months.”

His comments come after tens of thousands of people demonstrated across the country against water charges on Saturday.

The Right2Water campaign said 150,000 people had turned out to protest.

Meanwhile, the Economic Management Council is beginning its second week of examining the issues surrounding Irish Water.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the council, an inner Cabinet comprising the Taoiseach and three ministers, would be addressing the issues of certainty about what charges people would face in the future.

The political debate on the issue has widened with Ireland’s largest union and Labour Party politicians calling for a referendum that would guarantee Irish Water remaining in the hands of the State.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has described as “utterly bogus” a claim by Enda Kenny that the top rate of income tax would have to rise by 4% if water charges were not introduced.

SIPTU president Jack O’Connor and former Labour minister of state Joe Costello have both called for a referendum that would guarantee Irish Water remaining in public ownership.

Labour Minister of State Ann Phelan has said the utility should not issue bills until there was certainty about the price.

Mr Martin also said his party supports the call for a referendum to ensure that Irish Water remains a public utility and said people do not accept the Government’s reassurance on that point.

Right2Water campaigner and former member of Unite trade union Brendan Ogle has also criticised the Taoiseach’s warning that income tax would rise if the Government was to abolish water charges.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Ogle said the turnout at the anti-charge protests on Saturday sent a significant message to the Government over the level of disquiet at local level.

He insisted his campaign against water charges was not in any way political and described the water charges as a form of double taxation.

“We believe water should be paid through progressive general taxation and that is how it should be done.

“This is a double tax on something we already pay for.”

Speaking on the same programme, Mr O’Connor said a referendum on public ownership of Irish Water will help ease concern over the matter.

He said: “We are talking about what will happen over the next few years.

“The way we are drifting now with the Government failing to put together a formula that can win the acceptance of the people, it looks very like that we will end up in a situation where Irish Water will not be able to collect its revenues, it will become insolvent and then we will drift into privatisation”.

Last night, Drogheda mayor Kevin Callan resigned from Fine Gael in light of what he called the overwhelming levels of public dissatisfaction with the handling of the introduction of water charges by the Government and Irish Water.

Around 8,000 people took part in a protest in Drogheda.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Callan said: “As mayor I took the message they gave me.

“These were not the normal activists or protesters who go to these events.

“These were people who are simple constituents who never come out, who never ask for anything.

“They were making a simple point.”


RTÉ News – News Headlines

By | 2014-11-03T09:20:00+00:00 November 3rd, 2014|Headlines|0 Comments