Anna Kavanagh interviews Enda Craig on the Water Charges Betrayal

Anna Kavanagh live from Donegal interviews Enda Craig, Buncrana Together on what he sees as the great betrayal of the Irish people by Right2Water Unions and TDs.

Enda believes that it is now happening again and this time over the issue of the proposed Water Referendum. He contends that the wording is wrong because the proposal only deals with services. It is not looking at ownership of water or our right to a domestic water supply. He says that a barrister informed him that the law at present allows for the water allowances to be whittled away to nothing and could result in full water charges. This eventually will lead to privatisation in line with the competition laws of the Lisbon Treaty, Articles 102-106. He says the the present referendum delay could be a good thing because we could put pressure on the TDs.

It was the opinion of the barrister that if a person's right to a domestic water supply is enshrined in the Constitution then If the Government did try to reduce the allowances we would then have a very strong legal case to prevent that.

Irish Exemption

The Irish Exemption enshrined in Article 9.4 of the Water Framework Directive 2000 was unique to Ireland. It came about through previous anti water charges campaigns in the 1990s, bringing down one Government and forcing the incoming Fianna Fáil to insist Brussels add this 9.4 clause to the WFD. The importance of this article is that it recognised that Ireland has an established practice of funding domestic water supply through general taxation and this allowed the Irish Government to opt out of the EU’s pressure for full cost recovery.

You might think that any anti water charges group would fight tooth and nails to keep this exemption a defense mechanism against EU diktat. Right2Water barely lifted a finger.

Although it may not have been explicitly stated in Ireland’s 2nd River Basin Management Plan which has been sent to Brussels, it is our contention that the 9.4 clause still applies and this will be so until it is removed by EU. That could happen soon since, as we speak, the EU Commission is in the process of revamping the Water Framework Directive and no doubt 9.4 clause will get omitted. It remains to be seen whether any TDs will defend it.