Labour proposes changes to Constitution to keep Irish Water and ESB in public ownership

Party says it is necessary to protect the utilities given unstable nature of current Government

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Willie Penrose. Image:

The Labour Party has proposed changes to the Constitution that would keep Irish Water and the ESB under public ownership.

If the amendment was approved by referendum and added to the Constitution, it would mean the state could not privatise water, gas or electricity services.

The party says it is necessary to protect the utilities given the unstable nature of the current Government.

Party Chairman Willie Penrose says they did not get enough credit in Government for stopping Fine Gael from privatising assets.

"We all know what we did wrong," he told reporters. "But when we did things right, there was very little credit rolled out".

The proposals come as Irish Water faces increased pressure, with charges expected to be suspended at the end of the current billing cycle, following the agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on a minority Government.

The utility today confirmed that it saw a 21% fall in revenue from bills for the final three months of 2015.