Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes votes to allow water disconnections to households

Many people will remember Deputy Phil Hogan telling the Irish public that 'water pressure will be turned down to a trickle for people who don't pay' their domestic water charges.

Hogan, now a Commissioner with the EU, has now been outdone by his Fine Gael counterpart Brian Hayes MEP.

On Tuesday, Mr Hayes voted to allow water disconnections by water suppliers to households.

As the European Parliament debated the human right to water, a number of amendments were put forward that would give legislative protections for poorer householders. They included: Amendment 219: (ba) banning water disconnections by water suppliers to households.”

Mr Hayes decided that water companies should have the right to shut off a vulnerable persons water if they cannot afford their water bills.

Many people may believe that this is not a major issue for European citizens. However, all across Europe, in Italy, France, and parts of Eastern Europe, thousands of households have had their water shut off. Generally for being too poor to pay their bills.

Water companies in the United States are practicing this behaviour too.

“In Detroit, surviving without running water has become a way of life.”

Since 2014, more than 110,000 households have had their water shut off. This usually occurs as “customers” fall 60 days behind their bills. Those bills are now an average of $900 per year.

Right2Water and all those involved in the water movement in Ireland want to condemn water shut-offs anywhere in the world.

We would also like to apologise to the people of Europe for the stance taken by Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes MEP, Ireland’s MEP, who does not represent the majority of decent Irish people.

Other Irish MEP’s voted to prevent disconnections including Sinn Fein’s Lynn Boylan, Martina Anderson and Matt Carthy, along with Independent representatives Luke Ming Flanagan MEP and Nessa Childers.

Should the Irish public not receive a referendum on the public ownership of our water in the near future, it is entirely possible that Fine Gael will privatise our water. Once this happens, if Brian Hayes’ votes are anything to go by, it is possible Ireland could face water disconnections similar to that occuring in Italy, France and Detroit. This is why we must prevent domestic water charges and the commodification of our water.

If you would like to contact any of your MEP’s, their details are available here.


Detroit water shutoffs from Joel Kurth on Vimeo.

Detroit water shutoffs by the year

In 2014, Detroit kicked off a campaign to disconnect water to customers who were 60 days behind their bills. The effort was supposed to change a culture of nonpayment. Here’s a look at residential shutoffs by year in Detroit.

2014: 33,000

2015: 23,200

2016: 27,552

2017: 17,665

2018: 11,422 (through August)

Source: City of Detroit