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  • by Karma Loveday

Irish government approves referendum on public ownership of water services supply

The Irish Republic’s cabinet has approved the outline of a proposed referendum to keep in public ownership any company or authority responsible for the supply of water services.

This move will involve an amendment to the state’s constitution which will stipulate that ownership of a water services authority must be retained by the state or a state-controlled body. Detailed drafting of this measure has started.

According to a memo to the cabinet, the government is defining a body that is under the control of the state as one in which the state can determine the membership of its board.

The government has yet to specify a date for the referendum.

Housing and local government minister Eoghan Murphy, who is responsible for water industry policy, asked colleagues to approve the priority drafting of amendments to a Private Member’s Bill tabled by Dublin South Central TD Joan Collins back in 2016.

This proposed holding a referendum that would insert text into article 28 of the Constitution which would state: “The government shall be collectively responsible for the protection, management and maintenance of the public water system. The government shall ensure in the public interest that this resource remains in public ownership and management.”

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