Referendum, Anyone?


Brendan Ogle, from the Right 2 Water campaign, spoke with John Keogh on Newstalk’s Lunchtime earlier.

He’s calling for a referendum.

From the interview…

Brendan Ogle: “There are two things that are important about any proposed referendum. The first thing that’s important is where the proposed wording would sit in the constitution. Different parts of the constitution are open to different types of interpretation. So we’re proposing a specific article section, Article 28, Section 421, which is the part of the constitution which deals with the functions of government, the functions of the executive and what we’re proposing is a very simply worded referendum which would read as follows:

‘The Government shall be collectively responsible for the protection, management and maintenance of the public water system. The Government shall ensure, in the public interest, that this resource remains in public ownership and management.’

John Keogh: ‘Ok, why is there a need for a referendum when we already have this guarantee enshrined in legislation. Alan Kelly brought legislation before the Dáil only a couple of months back.”

Ogle: “Well, fair question John, but what we need to realise here is that there’s no such thing as a guarantee enshrined in legislation. Legislation, such as the legislation for example, to enact Irish Water itself, is simply legislation, it can be changed in the Dáil and is often changed and I’m sure the Irish Water legislation will be changed. And sometimes the legislation can be changed very, very quickly by the use of whips and guillotines and all sorts of…”


Ogle: “Just to be clear, we don’t want to do anything with Irish Water, except abolish it. We certainly don’t want to put that in the constitution.”


Related: Huge majority support Irish Water referendum, survey shows (Irish Independent, December 16, 2014)

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28 thoughts on “Referendum, Anyone?

  1. Diddy

    Nice idea.. But I’m afraid the plan to give the Irish water asset to Denis o Brien for him to sell water back to us is the only show in town.

  2. Rubex

    Whatever about water rates and where you stand, this is Brendan Ogle who brought Irish Rail to its knees about 15 years ago (ILDO), tried to get the ESB to go on strike to meet his demands. Charming fellow

    1. phil

      He is definately hard core, but in true Irish doublespeak I will say, he is working for us now, and if he gets a result , all is forgiven …

      1. classter

        Does his involvement not give you pause for thought?

        Has Ogle’s involvement ever ended up positive for the public at large?

    2. Declan

      Brendan also said that the ESB workers were soft and overpaid (I’m paraphrasing).

      More Importantly, why do we need to have this clause added to the constitution. This is a legislative issue and not a constitutional one. We could be like California at this stage and shoe horn in any old random crap because the “people” want it. Rant over

      1. pedeyw

        “….there’s no such thing as a guarantee enshrined in legislation. Legislation, such as the legislation for example, to enact Irish Water itself, is simply legislation, it can be changed in the Dáil and is often changed and I’m sure the Irish Water legislation will be changed. And sometimes the legislation can be changed very, very quickly by the use of whip”

        1. Declan

          We did somehow manage to legislate to remove the ban on homosexual relations in the 90’s. We didn’t need a referendum for that (marriage was due to the original constitution). I’d recon that’s a damn sight more important than water as an issue, perhaps the govt could whip legislation through to re-enact the ban

          1. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

            They could whip legislation through to re-enact the ban. They don’t have the gall to do it (right now), but that’s the point of having something in the constitution. To prevent it ever being done without the expressed support of a majority of the country.

          2. Declan

            Firstly, constitutions like the law is a living document. It changes from time to time. The Yanks had slavery and now they don’t. My point is that it’s something which should be reserved for things which are an essence of a country not whatever hot blooded issues crops up on Joe Duffy.

            We’re under valuing the document. If for instance, we lived in Mali and some other Saharan country then yes I completely understand why you might have a water clause, instead we live in an island in the North Atlantic.

          3. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

            So, the whole thing is just a Joe Duffy issue?

            You might want to climb down from your ivory tower there and see what the plebians are actually saying, and their lack of trust of those in charge.

          4. Declan

            They’re actually citizens. Irish Water is a catalogue of error and stupidity, no issue here.

            Most of those citizens will vote in the election coming at some point next year I think. They’ll have a chance to vote for whatever combination or whomever they want. I don’t think the majority of people when they go to the polling boot will think just of Irish water. They’ll think of schools, taxes, hospitals and even redacted. They’re not stupid and to claim that you speak for all of us is frankly arrogant.

            As regards my ivory tower, I spent the better part of this recession on €184 a week while volunteering and interning. I couldn’t emigrate as I didn’t have the money for it and I stayed here. Then I’ll admit I got lucky (+hard work) and finally got some good work. I’ll never apologise for it and I won’t let the recession define me. I also believe because this country supported me in my time of need then I need to do the same now. That does mean paying tax and contributing. If we want to follow the Nordic model then it’s a conversation we’ll all need to have and not just sloganise

  3. Jake38

    Can someone ask Ogle how he feels about the constitution in North Korea, and maybe, while we’re at it, if he’d like to move there.

  4. sendog

    Why not?!

    we can have bullshit referendums on the presidential age but we cant have one about the most important resource!!

    says it all really!

  5. b

    it’s not very easy to enact and remove legislation – you need to win a general election on a number of issues and hold on to the majority in parliament

    whereas for a constitutional amendment you can easier raise a rabble on a single issue agenda

  6. Maireben

    Putting Irish Water into Legislation was passed by a shower of drunks late into the night I’m with Brendan Ogle on this one. Also to clear up matters Brendan Ogle did not single handly try to put ESB out on strike. The company was trying to get rid of Defined Benefit Pension Schemes thus getting the company ready for sell off …… probably to Redacted …..

  7. Mayor Quimby

    so does that mean the State will nationalise all privately owned group schemes? Or has he thought that far ahead???

  8. Brian S

    Obviously the end game here is you go into a topaz petrol station, fill up with expensive fuel because all other petrol stations were bought out, buy an indo, cause it’s all that’s stocked there then pay your water bill while in there so it goes straight into dinnys account. Unfortunately the pesky public are getting in the way of business men with impeccably good names just making s few shillings

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