MEP MARIAN HARKIN TO SPONSOR REPRESENTATIVES OF ' OUR WATER ' TO BRUSSELS

Marian Harkin, MEP, invited ‘Our Water’ group to explore and assess possibilities of saving Ireland's endangered European 9.4 Domestic Water Charges exemption.

Citizens from around the country have formed a group called ‘Our Water’.   Representatives of the group held a meeting in Letterkenny, Co Donegal,  on February 9th, 2018 with MEP Marian Harkin. 

Ms Harkin agreed to lend her full support to the group.

The Our Water group insist that the Irish Government’s failure to renew Ireland's 9.4 Exemption will be disastrous for the people and it will mean a return to 1) Water Metering  2) Water Billing and  3) The possibility of Water Privatisation.

Michael Mooney, spokesperson for ‘Our Water’ said “Irish people haven't given up their fight, only our politicians have done that. We demand that the government protect the peoples’ interests and renew and maintain our 9.4 Exemption.  If they don’t, our right to and control of this invaluable resource, will be handed over to Brussels and private interests."

Members of the Our Water’ group meeting with MEP Marian Harkin.   L to R; Brendan Kelly, Enda Craig, Marian Harkin, Mark McAuley, James Quigley and Michael Mooney

Members of the Our Water’ group meeting with MEP Marian Harkin.   L to R; Brendan Kelly, Enda Craig, Marian Harkin, Mark McAuley, James Quigley and Michael Mooney

Ms Harkin  agreed to help the group explore the possibilities of saving the 9.4 Exemption as contained in the Water Framework Directive, 2000/60/EC.

The  Exemption  allows Ireland to opt out of full cost recovery of domestic charges if the Government so wish.  Ireland is now on the brink of doing away with it forever and if this happens the Irish Government will be responsible. This point was emphasised by Ms Harkin at the meeting when she said that if this clause is not invoked in the next River Basin Management Plan (RBMP)  then the Irish Government will hand power to Brussels who will determine our domestic funding and infrastructure. The next draft RBMP can be viewed on DHPLG website and is due to be submitted to Brussels in April 2018.  Unfortunately the public will not have the opportunity to view the final plan until it is submitted to Brussels. 

By that stage it could be too late.

Our Water facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/177113226349071/?ref=br_rs


Water Committee’s many unanswered questions

by James Quigley

In my last article I asked  should the chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water, Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh  have ensured that each session of the committee was included in all committee reports.  I said that that question was put to him and that we did not receive a reply from him. It turns out my article wasn't wholly accurate.

Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh, Chairman

Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh, Chairman

Michael Mooney, Communities for Ireland’s 9.4 reminded me that he wrote twice to Mr Ó Céidigh in August this year  and he received not one but two replies.  Neither reply, however, was directly from the chairman himself.  Rather they were sent indirectly through the committee secretary, Tom Sheridan. (see all letter below)

Michael pointed out that in a second email he informed the secretary that he was annoyed that Mr Ó Céidigh did not reply personally, in the first place.  Hence the secretary's second reply.

However, apart from the etiquette question,  what Mr Sheridan's replies in fact does is point out that both he and the Chairman Mr Ó Céidigh are in agreement.

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This answer speaks for itself.  The responsibility is now laid squarely on the members themselves and puts the onus on them to give us an explanation, firstly whether they agree with the committee secretary or not and secondly, If they agree and it would be amazing if they didn’t, then,  they have to explain why they did not include any mention of February 15th session and in particular the 9.4 Exemption in any report.  Did they replace the 9.4 Exemption or Ireland's  ‘Established Practice’ with excessive charges and metering?

One of the reasons we dwell on this is because we have not got an adequate explanation to date from anyone.  We have to determine who was responsible for setting the agenda for any of the committee’s reports.   This is a highly significant line of questioning.  Depending on the Oireachtas member's explanation, their answer will shed light on procedures and in particular why there was a total omission of what we believe to be the central and most significant session of the whole committee, namely February 15th session.

Not only does it question the bona fides of those who professed to be acting in the interest of the majority of Irish people opposing Irish Water, water charges and metering but it has the potential to question the administration of the committee itself and by extension the farcical end result.  This by the way includes Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Solidarity/PBP, Independents and Senators.

 

Original query from Michael Mooney

Dear Mr O’Ceidigh,

I am aware that you were appointed independent Chairman of the Oireachtas Comittee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water in Ireland which is now disbanded. I followed this with great interest but it ended with some disillusionment.

I understood that it would be an independent chairman’s responsibility to record and report on all significant contributions to the committee and as a result of this I have a query.

During the meetings which were both held in private and public you obtained input from senior counsels. These were Matthias Kelly and Conleth Bradley who are regarded as experts in European Environmental Law. You permitted their input, as you believed or stated that it would be of the ‘utmost importance’ following some objection from Colm Brophy TD. These people were invited by Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail to contribute their legal opinion on Ireland’s compliance with the European Union (EU) Water Framework Directive (WFD). Their contribution extended over at least one full session around mid-February 2017. In their legal opinion, they confirmed that Ireland was in compliance due to a practice already established of paying for water. This established practice forms an exemption which leaves Ireland in compliance with the EU WFD via Section 9, item 4 or as commonly referred to Exemption 9.4. This is a significant piece of information and my query is;

Why was this omitted from the confidential draft report that you furnished?

I look forward to an urgent reply on this matter. Please confirm receipt of this upon arrival and advise if you can reply within 7 days and maximum 14 days.

 

 

First letter from Oireachtas secretary

25 August, 2017

Dear Mr Mooney,

I refer to your recent message to Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh regarding the Report of the Joint Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services.

In the course of its deliberations, the Joint Committee considered extensive information from a large number of stakeholders (received both in writing and in oral evidence at meetings), regarding a range of matters relating to its brief. Transcripts of the meetings of the Joint Committee along with a large amount of other information are available on the webpage of the Joint Committee at the website of the Houses of the Oireachtas (www.oireachtas.ie).

It was not the objective of the Report of the Joint Committee to re-produce all of the information that was considered. The content of the Report, which is mainly comprised of the Joint Committee’s recommendations, was agreed in detail by the Members over a number of meetings and approved by them in the normal manner.

The Joint Committee ceased to exist following the conclusion of its work at its final meeting on 11 April of this year, and the subsequent submission of its Report.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Sheridan
Committee Secretariat

 

Second letter from Oireachtas secretary

28 August, 2017

Dear Mr Mooney,

Joint Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services

I refer to your message to Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh dated 20 August regarding the above matter, to my reply of 25 August, and to your subsequent message.

I replied to your message to Senator Ó Céidigh as the person who was the Clerk to the Joint Committee during its deliberations. This is consistent with normal practice.

Having considered both of your messages, Senator Ó Céidigh does not wish to add anything to my earlier reply.

Please contact me if you have any further queries regarding this matter.

Yours sincerely,
Tom Sheridan, Clerk

 

Why the 9.4 water exemption clause on water charges is a game-changer, missing from Oireachtas Report and sadly going to disappear

This is another interview from OceanFM, NWT, June 23 2017 on the issue of the 9.4 Exemption clause of the EU's Water Framework Directive that gives Ireland an exemption on water charges.  Michael Mooney, a former election candidate in Donegal with the Right2Change campaign speaks clearly and passionately on the history and importance of the 9.4 Exemption clause.  He voices the disillusionment and shock that many in Ireland feel over how we were led, how the campaign against water charges has gone and about our fear that water charges are coming down the line.

OceanFM NWT, June 23, 14 mins

 

Buncrana Together

Charges coming down the line

Anyone interested can view the draft River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021 on the Dept of Housing's website. 

Click the link opposite to view the complete draft plan.  Page 77 gives you an idea of whats coming down the line with regards charging and structuring.   

Imagine the importance of the River Basin Management Plan, a fundamental building block of the Water Framework Directive where all future structuring of our water is planned.  Imagine after it's importance and the 9.4 Exemption was highlighted in the Oireachtas Committee and it didn't even get a mention in it's final report. 

 

What have we got really?

Having read the report from the expert Commission in particular paragraph 2.1 'Water Charging in Ireland: Timeline of Key Decisions', page 6, we came across the following;

"September 2014: the CER decided on the water charges tariffs (taking account of the Ministerial Policy Direction) that came into effect on 1 October 2014. The main aspects of the charging regime were: a free household allowance of 30,000 litres; free allowance for each child; exemptions for certain medical conditions; charges for usage above the allowance; and households without a meter would be charged on an assessed basis, using occupancy as the criteria for assessment.  More details of the Charging Plan are listed in Appendix 2.

Does that not sound all too familiar and that was back in 2014?  Note also not a peep about Irish Water Ltd which is by now well entrenched, politically and financially.