Yesterday, the Green Party launched our ‘Our Water’ campaign, to encourage the Government to hold a referendum in the next year to put an article into the Constitution that would prohibit the privatization of Irish Water.
We are calling on the Government to hold a referendum on public ownership of water as a priority, before the end of their term of office. We wish to see the inclusion of the following new Article 10.5 into Bunreacht na hÉireann, which would state:
“The State shall treat drinking water as an essential resource and in the interests of the common good the State shall not provide for the privatisation or commercialisation of water services for the people”.
There’s been a huge groundswell of public anxiety about water charges in the last few months. Much of this is based on uncertainty about the future of Irish Water – will it continue to raise its prices and will it one day be sold off to an international corporation. We can answer this second question now but changing the Constitution to ensure that this will never happen.
Enda Kenny himself said that any move to privatize water in this country would have “disastrous consequences”. We completely agree. But it’s not enough for the Taoiseach to make statements like that. He can take the issue of possible future privatisation off the table by bringing forward this referendum to amend the Constitution to ensure that water remains a public resource. The Government must act to provide the public with this level of reassurance.