Woman takes legal challenge against establishment of Irish Water

Plaintiff says she suffers from Crohn’s Disease, an illness for which regular hydration is vital

Elizabeth Hourihane is seeking to challenge the constitutionality of the legislation transferring the water supply to Irish Water.  Photograph: Sunny/Stockbyte/Getty

Elizabeth Hourihane is seeking to challenge the constitutionality of the legislation transferring the water supply to Irish Water. Photograph: Sunny/Stockbyte/Getty

 

A Co Cork woman who is mounting a personal challenge to the introduction of water charges has asked the High Court to quash the Government’s decision to set up Irish Water.

Elizabeth Hourihane, of Maulbaun, Passage West, Co Cork, told Ms Justice Marie Baker that she suffered from Crohn’s Disease, an illness for which regular hydration was vital. She had to have a more than average daily intake of water.

She said the metering and charging for water threatened her health and because of her current financial position she would be forced into a situation where she would have to make decisions between water and food.

She said she was currently on a pay plan for her gas bill and had her electricity paid for by meter. Metering the water supply would add yet another bill she could not afford and would be detrimental to her health and well-being, putting her health and safety at risk.

Ms Hourihane said she had been badly stressed by the Government threat that her water supply would be “turned down to a trickle” as stated on television if she refused to or could not pay the charges.

She told Judge Baker she wanted the court to make an order declaring null and void the transfer of the public water supply to Irish Water making a service into a commodity which could ultimately be sold on to private concerns.

She said the Minister of the Environment had failed to take account of the public and common good and had acted wrongly in the transfer of the water supply.

Judge Baker told Ms Hourihane her case could have enormous consequences for the State and how the water supply was regulated but the court’s difficulty was that it seemed more properly a matter that should be commenced by plenary summons.

Judge Baker said she would give Ms Hourihane leave to bring proceedings on notice to the State on grounds of public interest and common good as well as on the grounds of risk to her personal health.

She said Ms Hourihane was seeking to challenge the constitutionality of the legislation transferring the water supply to Irish Water and she would allow her leave to amend her proceedings by naming the Attorney General as a defendant as well as the Minister for the Environment.

She also granted Ms Hourihane to bring a motion seeking case management by the court of her action.