GSG 22-22 Keep Water Public Campaign



You will be aware, after years of campaigning, Government committed in the Programme for Government (2020) to “retain Irish Water in public ownership as a national, standalone, regulated utility”. In 2021 Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage of Ireland, Darragh O’Brien TD, published a paper which set out the necessary steps to ensure that Irish Water was retained in public ownership and this paper was approved by Cabinet. Regrettably, notwithstanding those commitments the Government has failed to set a date for the holding of the referendum.

As a consequence of this unacceptable delay, Unions representing workers in the industry, CONNECT, FORSA, SIPTU and UNITE, recently launched a campaign demanding Government Name The Date for the referendum to Keep Water Public.  The CWU is fully supportive of this welcome initiative which is endorsed by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. We have posted the full details on the CWU website and social media platforms.

The campaign’s immediate action is an online petition calling on Minister Darragh O’Brien TD to name the date for the referendum. The key messages being:

  • Name the Date
  • Access to safe drinking water is an internationally recognised human right
  • Water should be provided for the public good, not for profit
  • Privatisation will result in higher cost and poorer public services

This Union has first-hand experience of the consequences of privatisation, in particular in the telecoms industry. We opposed the privatisation of Telecom Éireann, warning government that the company would be asset-stripped to subsidise the profits of major stakeholders; a warning which was unheeded and very unfortunately came to pass.

To that end, we would ask our members to sign and share, as widely as possible, the petition on the Keep Water Public website:

The CWU will actively participate in the referendum campaign when it is secured and held, providing comprehensive advice and necessary information for members. We will keep members informed of developments by circular and on the Union’s website and social media platforms.

Please bring this circular to the attention of all members please.


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