The Programme for Government provides that the Government will retain Irish Water in public ownership as a national, standalone, regulated utility.
The realisation of this commitment will complete the broad policy and legislative reforms which have seen the public water system embark on a journey of transformation, from a structure based on locally-organised water services authorities, towards a single, national, water utility. This has been a complex and challenging process for key stakeholders, notably the workers and their trade union representatives, the local government sector, and Ervia/Irish Water.
In keeping with the Programme for Government commitment, the Government yesterday approved a Policy Paper entitled Irish Water - Towards a national, publicly-owned, regulated water services utility which is now available on my Department's website at www.gov.ie/en/publication/06326-water-sector-transformation-policy-paper/. The Policy Paper sets out the Government's expectations and views in relation to the next phase of the Water Sector Transformation Programme, including those matters raised in the question.
By setting out its views and expectations in this way, the Government is enabling stakeholders to engage meaningfully in the change process which will give them the strongest possible say in determining their own future working arrangements. I will be writing to the Workplace Relations Commission in the coming days asking them to contact the parties to arrange to re-commence engagement on a Framework for the future delivery of water services. The Government believes it will be possible to reach a collective agreement which addresses the interests and concerns of all parties.