Water referendum must 'not be rushed', says Eoghan Murphy

By Juno McEnroe
Political Correspondent

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has insisted that the government will still to hold a referendum on whether water should be protected in public ownership but the vote must “not be rushed”.

The minister told the Dail this morning that wording for the referendum was still being worked on by the Attorney General among others, before it is debated with the Opposition in the Dail.

Fianna Fail's Darragh O'Brien pushed Mr Murphy to commit to when the vote could be held and when details around it and the transfer of water assets from local authorities to Irish Water would be completed.

Mr Murphy said that the government had decided against having the vote in May because of the need to get language right over the contentious issue of group and private water schemes.

The decision to postpone the referendum has been viewed by Opposition TDs as a way to avoid any further controversy or backlash over water in the lead up to the May local and European elections.

Meanwhile, Mr Murphy also said regulations for affordable housing and rent schemes were being finalised.

Up to 29,000 such homes are planned and applicants with an income under €50,000 or a joint income of 75,000 can apply, the minister told the Dail this morning.

Sinn Fein's Eoin O'Broin said rents should be set for the properties and local authorities required to meet targets for affordable homes.

Mr Murphy said, once schemes are up and running, that overall targets would be set in a similar way to social housing.

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