Friday 22 February 2019

Huge majority support Irish Water referendum, survey shows

Anti Water Charges Protesters and Gardai clash at the junction of Nassau street and Kildare street
Anti Water Charges Protesters and Gardai clash at the junction of Nassau street and Kildare street

Daniel McConnell

A huge majority of the public support the holding of a referendum to ensure Irish Water is not privatised, a new national survey reveals.

The Government has so far refused to consider such a move, with Environment Minister Alan Kelly saying that no political party or Independent member of the Dail supports selling it off.

The survey found overwhelming support for the holding of a referendum, with 81pc of respondents in favour of it. Support for the referendum was highest among middle-aged voters aged between 35-54 years.

The poll also asked people how they would vote if a referendum took place.

A slightly smaller majority (74pc) said they would vote to keep Irish Water in public ownership, with just 4pc supporting its privatisation. More than one in five (22pc) said they did not know what to think.

Support for retaining the utility in public hands was stronger among men than women, while those with children were found to be more opposed to the privatisation of Irish Water.

The poll also looked at people's willingness to pay water charges and found that 39pc said they were not willing to pay for their water.

Above that, 24pc said they would be willing to pay up to €51 per adult per year, while a further 20pc said they would pay between €51 and €100 per adult per year for drinking water and waste water.

The remaining 17pc said they would be willing to pay in excess of €100 per adult per year in water charges.

Of this group, 9pc said they would be willing to pay up to €150 a year, a further 4pc said they would pay up to €200, with just 4pc saying they would pay in excess of €200 per adult per year.

The survey suggested that the average amount people were willing to pay was €83. Men without children and those from poorer lower socio-economic classes were found to be most unlikely to pay water charges. Of those polled, nearly one in four (24pc) claimed to have attended a public protest over the issue of water charges in the past year.

Lower-income men were the ones who were most likely to have protested, as were those with children, the research found.

Mr Kelly was forced to bring the idea of a referendum to his Cabinet colleagues after his Seanad party colleagues supported the idea. However, many within Fine Gael oppose the idea of a referendum.

The research, carried out by Coyne Research, took the opinions of 1,000 people aged 16 and over.

Irish Independent

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