Cabinet warned over unsafe levels of chemicals in drinking water

Daily penalties by European Court of Justice possible if Ireland does not act appropriately

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said he would bring forward legislation within six weeks to implement the recommendations. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said he would bring forward legislation within six weeks to implement the recommendations. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

The Cabinet has been warned of potential infringement proceedings by the European Commission due to dangerous levels of chemicals found in drinking water.

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney briefed the meeting on the contents of the final report of the Oireachtas committee on water charges.

Mr Coveney said he would bring forward legislation within six weeks to implement the recommendations.

The issue of refunds is unlikely to be dealt with at this point but a spokesman for the Government said this would be prepared in a budgetary context.

The Minister also informed the Government of the potential for legal action by the commission on the level of trihalomethanes (THMs) in the water system has been closed.

Ireland will be given the opportunity to respond to the action. If its response is inadequate, the commission can take the case to the European Court of Justice, whose judgment is binding.

Significant daily penalties could be imposed by the court if Ireland does not act appropriately.

THMs are chemicals that have been present in many public water supplies for years. They are formed when chlorine is added to purify water.

Cancer risks

Long-term exposure is reported to carry increased risks of cancers, including of the bladder and colon, and causes damage to the heart, lungs, liver, kidney and central nervous system.

Permissible levels of trihalomethanes in drinking water are limited by the EU drinking water directive and World Health Organisation guidelines.

It is understood that up to 400,000 households in Ireland are affected, including ones in parts Kerry and Cork, Kilkenny city, Waterford, Wicklow, Meath, Mayo, Roscommon, Donegal and Galway.

In May 2015, the European Commission initiated a pilot case here due to THMs levels exceeding guidelines in some drinking-water supplies.

Source: Irish Times, Sarah Bardon, May 2 2017

Fine Gael's fine tuned mantra and Simon Coveney adds more fuel to the fire sweeping democrarcy aside

Michael McGrath, Fianna Fáil

Michael McGrath, Fianna Fáil

Why are we constantly hearing Fine Gael threats of potential EU monetary sanctions over Ireland's democratic decision on water charges?  Why is Fine Gael Simon Coveney holding the country to ransom with unsubstantiated arguments that this democratic decision may or may not be good enough for Brussels?  Now we have Fine Gael trotting out their latest mantra of 'the county does not want elections over the water issue'. 


We have two words for Fine Gael   'Established Practice' ,  there in black and white in the EU Water Framework Directive 2000.   As Mr Coveney arrogantly says in the clip below "we don't know how many times we have to say it". 

However, there is also the relevant fact that Ireland is still operating under the first River Basin Management Plan, agreed in 2010, which states that domestic water is financed through general taxation. 

Just because in 2014 Fine Gael and the Labour Party, without a mandate to do so, once again tried to bring in Water Charges and railroaded legislation through the Dáil, the Irish people did not accept it.    Even the cows in the field would understand that 'Water Charges' are not an 'Established Practice'.

Today on 'RTE News at One' a defiant Simon Coveney, shows off his hegemonic qualities and calls Fianna Fáil's bluff after Barry Cowen earlier threatened that Fianna Fail may not facilitate the election of a new Fine Gael leader if legislation is not forthcoming based on the Oireachtas Water Committee draft report.  However, Fianna Fáil's, finance spokesperson, Michael McGrathcountered with an obvious demand

" Fine Gael concerns seem to be around the Attorney General’s legal advice on the draft report. His party would like to be shown what those concerns are and to deal with them"

Indeed the public would like to see hard facts on the table and not threats.  Mr Coveney also needs to be reminded that the Fine Gael Government is only a minority one.



Fine Gael's Simon Coveney interferes again in the Oireachtas Water Committee

Simon Coveney Fine Gael Housing Minister

Simon Coveney Fine Gael Housing Minister

Between the Minister for Housing,  Simon Coveney and the EU Commission,  Mr Pádraig Ó’Céidigh, chairman of the Oireachtas Water Committee was a busy man last week and walked a political tightrope, as it were.  Below is a recent letter, sent by Minister Coveney to the him on Thursday evening,  April 6th, 2017.

The letter was a response by the Fine Gael Government rejecting a draft report of a three month long Oireachtas Committee on Funding Domestic Water.  This Committee followed in the heels of an 'Expert Water Commission' set up early last year.

Minister Coveney says in his letter that he is not attempting to "in any way seek to interfere"  but urges the chairman to ensure that the "final draft report is, before adoption, subject to rigorous and fully objective legal scrutiny by a European law expert". 

It is not every day one sees a Minister being interested in objectivity and rigorous scrutiny, however, when one reads the letter in full and takes everythingthat has happened for the past year, his remarks are only a ruse and in facta contradiction in terms. 

This latest interference has prompted members of the Committee to complain to the Chairman.  See Irish Times article 'Simon Coveney accused of issuing threats water committee'


Coveney Letter