Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson speaking at a ‘Privatisation of Public Goods’ conference in Brussels this afternoon voiced strong opposition to the policy.
Chairing a session on water privatisation at the Conference Martina Anderson said:
“The issue for discussion at this session will focus on water privatisation, unfortunately something we in Ireland are all too familiar with.
“Water is a precious resource which costs money to bring to the tap. But access to it is universally recognised as a basic human right. It is already paid for through general taxation and taxpayers should not be expected to pay for it again through privatisation.
“Sinn Féin has always taken a strong stance on the issue of water privatisation in Ireland – North and South. We have and will continue to vigorously oppose the introduction of water charges.
“In the North, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy MP when Minister for Regional Development refused to introduce household water charges, halted proposals for universal metering and ruled out the privatisation of these services (as was proposed by a Direct Rule British Minister in 2007). Households in the North (and indeed across Europe) are already under considerable strain due to difficult economic circumstances and would understandably find it difficult to cope with an additional financial burden
“Unfortunately, the present right wing FG/Labour coalition in Dublin is striving to bring in similar measures to those proposed in 2007 for the North by the British government.
“The Irish government claim it wants to introduce water metering to better conserve water supplies. If you want to conserve water, you don’t do it through privatising and metering water used. The logical way to conserve water is through maintenance and repair of the delivery infrastructure which is presently leaking 40% of the human consumption water supply. Rather than borrow €300 million from the peoples national pension reserve fund to install household water meters so that it can charge the people again for a service that should be fully funded through progressive general taxation, the Irish government should be investing in repairing and replacing the outdated water infrastructure.
“This is just another example of regressive and punitive austerity policies, of hidden taxation, presently being devised by governments across Europe. Extracting more money from struggling families to please the Troika has once again won out over the provision of quality services to its citizens.
“Having voted against Sinn Féin amendments to poverty proof their bill an Taoiseach and his Labour coalition partners are bending over backwards to please the Troika by punishing the over 200,000 people in the State living below the poverty line.“ CRÍOCH