Referendum on Irish Water essential if unions to support transfer of local authority staff

Unions hold talks on Irish Water plans with Minister

Siptu divisional organiser Adrian Kane said at the meeting the Minister did not give any commitment to a date for holding a referendum on the ownership of water services. Photograph: PA

Siptu divisional organiser Adrian Kane said at the meeting the Minister did not give any commitment to a date for holding a referendum on the ownership of water services. Photograph: PA

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The Government has no chance of winning support for plans to move about 3,500 local authority staff under the control of Irish Water without a constittutional referendum to maintain the public control and ownership of water infranstructure, trade unions have said.

Trade unions representing local authority workers providing water services held talks on Thursday with the Minister for Housing Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy about the proposals.

Siptu divisional organiser Adrian Kane said at the meeting the Minister did not give any commitment to a date for holding a referendum on the ownership of water services.

Unions proposed a four-strand process for discussions on transferring staff from local authorities to the Irish Water utility.

This would include a constitutional referendum as well as assurances on staff terms and conditions, on the future role of Irish Water and on the position of the local authority sector if water services were removed.

Mr Kane said nothing would be agreed until everything was agreed.

Fórsa trade union official Peter Nolan described the talks with the Minister as “constructive”.

He said Mr Murphy had said he would respond to the trade unions shortly.

Mr Kane said the obvious time for holding a referendum on Irish Water would be at the time ofthe local elections next May.

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