Paul Murphy, Anti Austerity Alliance responds to Irish Water's legal threat that "Legal opinion commissioned by the utility company says the State is required under EU law to keep the contentious regime in place.... In our opinion, the Irish State is obliged to continue to impose charges for domestic water services.”
The advice – from Irish Water's solicitors Garrett Simons and Michael M Collins – argues that there is no option under European law to return to the practice of not charging for water. The Irish Times, March 29, 2016. see full article here.
Mr Murphy's statement
The report that Irish Water commissioned a legal opinion after the general election which argues ‘that there is no option under European law to return to the practice of not charging for water’ is deeply troubling. It is not troubling for the finding, which is dubious at best, but for the fact that the tops of Irish Water are so blatantly engaged in trying to subvert the democratically expressed wishes of the people to abolish Irish Water and water charges.
Almost 70% of people voted for parties that claimed to be committed to the abolition of Irish Water in the General Election. In response, Irish Water has engaged in a desperate rear-guard action to try to maintain itself. This legal opinion and the leaking of it to the Irish Times forms part of it. It is designed to pressure the political parties who could form the next government to forget the election promises made, for example the promise made by Fianna Fail to abolish Irish Water.
Irish Water is a loss-making, publicly funded entity. They should not be engaging in throwing away yet more public money to engage in an overtly anti-democratic intervention to try to deny the clearly expressed wishes of people for abolition.
In terms of the reported finding, it seems very questionable. Article 9.4 of the Water Framework Directive provides that countries don't have to implement water charges"if they decide in accordance with established practices not to apply" them. Tomorrow the government could abolish water charges and they could let the EU Commission know that, in accordance with long established practices in Ireland, they won't be attempting to apply water charges any more.
In the event that the Commission decided this was a breach of the Directive, they would be very openly going against the expressed wishes of people in a general election. Any bullying from them on water charges should be stood up to. For the moment, however, this is simply an intervention designed by the tops of Irish Water to save that failed entity. The best response by people is to strengthen the boycott and build for a massive united demonstration.
Murphy responds on newstalk.com
Below is a podcast from News on newstalk.com, Mar 29, 2016. Paul Murphy TD says Irish Water is "engaged desperately in a rearguard action to try and defend themselves"