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University of Limerick and Plassey Trust celebrate legal victory against Uisce Éireann (Irish Water)

Uisce Éireann had proposed reclassifying water services to UL’s student accommodation as ‘non-domestic’, leading to potential water charges and increased costs for students.

The University of Limerick and Plassey Trust Company Limited, overseeing on-campus accommodation, are expressing satisfaction with the outcome of a judicial review opposing Uisce Éireann’s decision to impose water charges on student residences at UL.

Uisce Éireann (UÉ) had proposed reclassifying water services to UL’s student accommodation as ‘non-domestic’, leading to potential water charges and increased costs for students, as utility bills are typically covered within rental fees.

UL President Professor Kerstin Mey stated: “We reluctantly sought a judicial review of an attempt by Uisce Éirean to reclassify our student accommodation leading to further and higher living costs on our students.”

Ms Justice Bolger’s decision supports UL’s position, asserting that the supply of water by Uisce Éireann to UL’s student accommodation during the academic year qualifies as the provision of water services to a “dwelling”, disallowing UÉ from imposing charges.

Professor Mey expressed relief, highlighting the existing student accommodation crisis in Ireland and the added burden that new utility costs would impose on students living on campus.

The legal action received full support from UL Student Life, the university’s student union body. UL’s student accommodation consists of 466 apartments and terraced houses, each featuring individual private bedrooms with access to a shared kitchen/living area.

“The position taken by Uisce Éirean in an attempted reclassification of student accommodation was entirely inconsistent with the objective of the National Student Accommodation Strategy in supporting the development of purpose-built student accommodation,” Professor Mey emphasised.

UL Student Life President, Ronan Cahill, commended the legal victory, stating: “The Student Officer team at UL Student Life welcome the result of this judicial review on Irish Water’s attempt to impose water charges on on-campus accommodation.”

Cahill stressed the unfairness of such charges amid a cost-of-living crisis, expressing gratitude for the University’s successful fight against these potential additional burdens on students.

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