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Government plans for water charges lack clarity – and the taxpayers, yet again, will have to clean up the mess!

Press Release

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Independent candidate Nessa Childers MEP said there are more questions than answers in latest Government announcement about water charges.

“There are real concerns about the long term implications for social welfare costs and cost to the tax payer.  Will there be cuts to other social welfare services to subsidise water charges, and will householders have to bear the brunt of paying for upgrading the very poor infrastructure?

“This is not about water conservation, this is tax by another name, and I do not support this policy and these charges! Most households just cannot afford this extra cost.  There is also no clarity around the charges and what eventually will be billed to each house.  I am also very concerned about the lack of transparency around the Irish Government’s plans for the future of water supply in Ireland, we need a guarantee that the service will be kept in public ownership.”

“I also believe that the water charges being proposed by the Irish Government are in breach of the spirit of the EU’s water framework directive (WFD).  The WFD seeks to protect water quality and stop wastage, and I am not at all certain that the government is fulfilling this promise with their plans.

Earlier this year Nessa Childers spoke in the European Parliament at a public hearing for the first ever Citizen’s Initiative which calls for the right to water to be enshrined in EU law.

Nessa Childers warned against selling Irish Water to private enterprise and said the EU must guarantee that all its citizens have access to a clean and health water supply

Speaking at the hearing in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee on the 17th February, during the debate titled ‘No liberalization of water services’, Nessa Childers also told the hearing: “A number of member states such as my own, Ireland, have implemented water charges and centralized the water sector as part of the bailout packages imposed by the troika. Irish citizens could be potentially left with higher bill prices and lower quality water. The issue also is that we keep control of access to water as a right for all citizens and that we do not commodify or liberalize access to water.”

“At a time where our citizens are still experiencing the effects of the economic crisis and the harsh austerity policies, the challenge and key question here lies in the affordability of water bills. High quality water is only good if everyone can afford it.  It deserves the status of a human right.

“We need to know what measures, if any are in place to improve the participation of users and civil society in the decision making processes on access to water?