Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has called on the Minister for the Environment to develop a comprehensive policy for the provision of water in all rural areas across the country.
In response to a Parliamentary Question this week, Minister Phil Hogan outlined that no such policy is in place.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented: “It is clear the Minister has no intention of ensuring the remaining small areas of the country that do not have this fundamental service will be provided with water during his time as Minister.
“Minister Hogan also made it clear in a response to a parliamentary question in September that he has no intention of increasing the existing grant for Group Water Schemes and in fact has reduced the grant by €1,000 since coming into office.
“In my short time as Minister for the Environment, I had increased the Group Water Scheme Grant by €1,000 per house to enable schemes to proceed in areas where there is dispersed housing and where the grant is not adequate.
“Unfortunately, the Minister seems to believe that people living in these areas, even if they have very inadequate water supply from wells, do not deserve high quality water. It is a fundamental belief of mine that everybody in the country should have piped water from a public scheme or a Group Water Scheme.
“Every house in the county has electricity and this includes the offshore Islands, which were completed during my time as Minister. Through the Clár Programme in recent years, many houses throughout rural Ireland, in areas that did not have an adequate water supply, got piped water provided through Group Schemes connected to the public mains. There was also very significant work done in providing adequate roads to houses, again through the LIS and Clár Scheme, both of which have been abolished by the Minister.
“I am now calling on the Minister to develop a National Policy to ensure that water is provided to the 40,000 people living in areas without an adequate water supply at present and to ensure that this basic necessity is available to all households in the country.
“In this day and age it is not acceptable for so many families to be without such a vital service and the Minister needs to address this immediately.”