Uisce Éireann Strategy Of Privatising Is Mainlined

Water service workers for Uisce Éireann carrying pipe.

Uisce Éireann (formerly Irish Water) have renewed their use of private project management to deliver water services keeping privatisation of services in the pipeline for the next five years at a minimum.

Water service workers in Cork noted consultancy.uk ran a story that our national water public water provider has appointed Mott McDonald as a ‘strategic partner’ in a 5-year extendable contract.

Mott McDonald has experience in the provision of these services in Cork, Waterford, and many other counties. The story indicates they will be given a larger role. This demonstrates Uisce Éireann’s structural dependence on private providers and strategy of continued defunding of public sector local authority workers and engineers despite the democratic mandate to keep water services public.

People Before Profit and water warriors across Ireland are absolutely opposed to this wasteful use of public funding and experience. The water workers who provided the vital maintenance and servicing of the water system of the country as local authority workers have been exemplary in continuing the fight against privatisation but are being sidelined in their workplaces local authorities and even their unions in some cases. This recent announcement is a slap in the face.

‘It’s the start of privatisation’ reports their workers’ campaign social media page.

Between 2014 and 2016 Hundreds of thousands marched for the public provision and ownership of water and we are still waiting for the referendum which the Green-FG-FF government has promised and then kicked away time and again.

Paul Murphy TD said, ‘The magnificent people power campaign stopped water charges and privatisation campaign through the front door. Unfortunately the government continues to try the back door. The latest ploy is to have crucial water services provided by for profit private companies. We need a referendum to enshrine all of Uisce Eireann in full public ownership.’

Unions established ‘Name The Date’ Campaign but without continuous committed pressure including strikes it won’t be enough because public ownership of water still allows for private management and services and a privatisation by stealth as we can see in our health services. Any referendum must be worded very precisely.

We call on all parties to back the position that we highlighted independent TD Thomas Pringle called for a year ago:

We don’t want to simply enshrine Irish Water (or Uisce Éireann) in the Constitution. We need to ensure the following wording is used: ‘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.

Anything less will allow privatisation through the back door. [See: https://www.pbp.ie/pressure-building-water-workers-and-the-water-referendum/ 23 Sep. 2023]

We would go further and call on people to be ready to demand government to set the date and the wording now so that people can prepare to critically engage and campaign to keep water public and stop privatisation plans and reverse all moves to privatise sections of the service.

We stand with the people and the workers: water service privatisation -no matter how it is structured- must be opposed. Water is a human right.


Share the https://keepwaterpublic.ie/ petition and organise contact your local branch of People Before Profit to talk about how we can support water workers and our local communities as they fight water privatisation. Join your union and show your support for the campaign and pass a motion to help build a campaign to get to make the wording public of any referendum on water and name the date.