“The proposed Water Services Amendment Bill to enable inspection of septic tanks is part of the further privatisation of public services. The local authorities already know that all houses not connected to a public sewer dispose of effluent to a cess pit, septic tank or package treatment plant so what is this registration process for other than to get the charge accepted so that it can be increased in the future?
“The local authority Water Services already have staff capable of compiling all the information required in relation to the type of system in use and the associated percolation areas. In addition, the legislation proposes that the local authorities be ignored again as the EPA will organise an inspection service – application fee to register as inspector is €1,000 This is all part and parcel of the plan to privatise the water services which will inevitably impose more costs on householders already stretched to the limit.
“Eamon O’Cuiv has made similar points but has some neck given his party’s role in government and on local authorities over the past decades where they used Section 4 legislation to overturn planning advice. The failure of FF, FG the Greens and Labour in Government during this period has created the situation whereby probably 50% of the individual house treatment systems are not compliant with many not having any secondary treatment.
“When these systems inevitably fail the initial inspection the house owner will be faced with significant works to enable compliance with the EPA standards – a new septic tank and percolation system, testing of soil for infiltration characteristics, civil engineering works and professional fees.
“Taxpayers in rural areas- not all rural residents – can justifiably feel hard done by given that billions have been spent during the past decade on upgrading of waste water treatment systems to benefit urban areas.
“While the upgrading of septic tanks and other treatment systems is definitely needed, the attempted privatisation should be resisted.
“Better by far, that a government task force employ thousands of the unemployed engineers, technicians and other building workers to systematically inspect and remediate the treatment systems throughout the country and to connect as many as possible to public sewers and ugrade or new public waste water treatment plants.
“Where’s the money going to come from? The €715 million of bankers debt handed over to unknown bondholders by Fine Gael and Labour this week would have made a good start.”
Socialist Party/United Left Alliance TDs call on Tainiste to demand no harm be done to activists Freedom Flotilla
Payment of over €700 million to unsecured Anglo bondholders is an obscenity
United Left Alliance calls for ‘No’ vote in Dáil Inquiries Constitutional Referendum and Yes vote on Judge’s Pay
United Left Alliance calls for ‘No’ vote in Dáil Inquiries Constitutional Referendum
United Left Alliance calls for a ‘Yes’ vote on Judge’s Pay referendum but reiterates call for salary cap for senior public servants
The United Left Alliance TDs, Richard Boyd Barrett, Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Seamus Healy and Joe Higgins are calling for a ‘No’ vote in next week’s Dáil Inquiries Referendum.
The need for an efficient, fair and transparent system for holding inquiries that throws a light on the workings of the state and its agencies, including the Gardaí as well as how the rich and powerful operate in this country and where appropriate bring out evidence and findings that could be used to prosecute wrongdoing is not contested by the United Left Alliance. The Tribunals of Inquiry we have seen over the last two decades have often fallen short on all of these counts.
In that sense the government’s proposal that is being put to a referendum is a missed opportunity. In fact if it is passed the powers that will be bestowed upon the government to hold inquiries into any matter of its choosing and make findings against an individual or individuals is open to abuse.
If this amendment is passed it will be up to a Dáil majority – in effect the Government – to decide on the subject-matter of an inquiry and the balance between the rights of individuals and the public interest. This power should not be entrusted solely to the government of the day. A more independent mechanism could have been proposed, such as Article 44 of the German Basic Law i.e. “[The Bundestag] shall have the right, on a motion of one quarter of its members, to establish an investigative committee, which shall take the requisite evidence at public hearings”.
In a briefing on the referendum by senior officials in Minister Howlin’s department to ULA and Technical group TDs and staff it was confirmed that no legal aid provision would be made to an ordinary citizen being compelled to appear before an Oireachtas inquiry as a witness or as an accused person. In other words only the rich and powerful would have the wherewithal to try to contest through the courts an attempt by an Oireactas enquiry to compel somebody to attend and be adequately represented in an inquiry scenario.
The reality is that there is no equality before the law or in this case before an Oireachtas inquiry. In both cases ones ability to acheive justice or defend oneself depends to a huge degree on the representation one can afford, if any.
Referendum on Judge’s Pay
Regarding the referendum on Judge’s pay the United Left Alliance advocates a Yes vote from the point of view that we oppose the special status afford to the judiciary, as high paid public servants, regarding matters of salary. In calling for a Yes vote we also take the opportunity to reiterate our opposition to the massive pay differentials that exist in Irish society, both public and private sector.
Yesterday in the Dáil during the debate on reforming public sector pensions we reiterated our call for a salary cap of €100,000 across the public service. This coupled with a steeply progressive system of income tax which would go some way to addressing the massive pay inequality that exists in this country.