Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, has called for a referendum on the ownership of Irish Water to be held to ensure that Irish Water remains in public ownership.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“The Oireachtas is still debating our water services a year after the election, when a majority of the TDs elected to Dáil specifically stated their opposition to water charges.

“A great deal of time and money has been wasted because of Fine Gael and Labour’s decision to introduce water charges and install redundant water meters across this country, despite the widespread opposition of the public.

“€460 million has been wasted to date installing meters while an antiquated water pipes system continued to leak due to a lack of public investment.

“The last couple of weeks we have been discussing the best way to refund money to people who should not have been forced to pay for their water in the first place.

“Instead of spending time debating this we should have been addressing other pressing problems such as the 448 people who were on trolleys in Tallaght Hospital or the 690,000 on public hospital waiting lists.

“Why is the Government opposed to the idea of a referendum on water ownership? Access to a quality water supply is a human necessity and a right that should be denied to no one. A number of important referendums are planned for next year, so why not include one on keeping water services in public ownership?

“Water is one of the most valuable commodities in the world and will become even more valuable due to climate change.

“It is inevitable that some wealthy people and corporations will want to profit from this demand and the drive towards privatisation will inevitably flow, as it has in other countries, if we do not put the matter of public ownership in the constitution.

“It is important that we keep water provision in this country in public ownership and I’ve no doubt a referendum to this effect would be passed overwhelmingly.”