Trinity Sinn Féin calls for SU referendum on water charges


Trinity Sinn Féin has called on the Students’ Union to hold a referendum on water charges. It said today that it has gathered the 250 signatures required to call a referendum on union policy.

Its proposed wording for the referendum is: “Do you believe water is a fundamental human right and seek Trinity College Students’ Union to campaign for equal, free and universal access to water?”

In a statement released this afternoon, the branch said: “Over the past number of months we have seen unprecedented levels of protest and debate over the matter of water charges. Thousands of people from every segment of society have marched on the streets over the issue, however the voice of one particular segment of society has remained unheard. That of students of which it effects as much as any man, women or child outside of Trinity walls. This needs to change.”

It added that “a giant elephant marched by the building [yesterday] in the form of water protesters, the student body has noticed this and has subsequently responded.” 

The statement was co-signed by Trinity Sinn Féin chair Thomas Hanlon, treasurer Fiona Gribben, secretary Síle Ní Thiarnan and public relations officer Yaro Kozyr.

Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne, SU president, said he had not yet been contacted by Trinity Sinn Féin about the issue, but was aware that they had been gathering signatures for a referendum.

When asked about his stance on water charges, he said, “My personal position on water charges I’ll diplomatically refrain from expressing, for obvious reasons given that a referendum may well now be pending on the matter, the outcome of which will dictate my activities on this front!”
“However,” he added, “I do think it is worth noting that, independent of whether water charges are actually necessary or not, the broader theme of inadequate and perfunctory consultation on issues that affect people hugely is something that regrettably has featured on both a societal and a university level in recent times. As Stephen Donnelly, TD, said in a Dáil speech a few weeks ago, recent outrage has only been exacerbated by the fact that public servants and taxpayers alike have been restricted to either wholesale rejection or placid acceptance of the new measures, with arguably insufficient consultation and formative discussion further upstream in the process. Similarly, whether it’s student charges or across-the-board cuts to student bodies, student representatives too often find ourselves in the disempowering position of protesting what is already a fait accompli.”

Photo: Trinity Sinn Féin

Catherine Healy

Editor of Trinity News. Interested in politics, history and all forms of media.