During the debate on the motion of no confidence in the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, and his housing policy, I had another reason for expressing no confidence in him. Three years ago, a Bill passed Second Stage in this House without opposition, the Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Water in Public Ownership) (No. 2) Bill 2016, which seeks to enshrine public ownership and management of public water services in the Constitution. It is sponsored by the Right2Water Deputies in the Dáil. The Bill has been trapped in committee for three years, first by the Tánaiste, when he was Minister, and since then by the current Minister, Deputy Murphy. The excuse given over and over is that the Minister is waiting for an amendment or amendments to the Bill from the Attorney General but, after three years of hearing this, it is just not credible. The intention of the Minister, in my opinion, is and has been to bury my Bill in committee. The Minister does not have the guts to come into the Dáil and argue against and vote against the Bill. His purpose is to leave open the possibility of privatising our water services at some point in the future.
This is yet another disgraceful example of the disregard for basic democracy and the decisions of elected representatives of the people.
I am really concerned now that the Bill will not see the light of day given the Minister's continuing inaction. The Right2Water unions are in the process of contacting all parties and groupings in the Dáil about this issue. Thousands upon thousands of people are hugely concerned and angered that Fine Gael is trying to bury the Bill. The very reason communities stopped the installation of water meters was the deeply held understanding that every meter that went into the ground was another step towards privatisation. Local authority workers in water services want a referendum and support my Bill. The Joint Committee on Future Funding of Domestic Water Services supported a referendum to keep our water in public ownership. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions supports a referendum on public ownership. There is no opposition to the Bill in the Dáil on paper. The Government, however, is still trying to bury the Bill and drag it into the next election.
Again, I call on the Minister, Deputy Murphy, to bring forward the amendment or amendments that he said, in a letter to the committee last July, would be ready by this autumn or, as I said, have the guts to come into the Dáil and argue against and vote against the Bill.