Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West Éamon Ó Cuív is calling on the Government to quash water charges for Islanders who are subject to rationing. Residents on Inis Meáin and Inis Oirr are being expected to pay the new water tax despite having their supply rationed.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “An emergency operation is currently underway to deal with water shortages on Inis Meáin. Reservoir levels have fallen to critically low levels on the island and around 50,000 gallons of waters are expected to be ferried to the island every day.
“The situation on the islands is completely unacceptable. Residents have been forced to put up with water restrictions during June and July, and now drastic measures are having to be taken to ensure that people have a sufficient supply. These shortages are coming during peak tourist season, with all of the Aran Islands packed with visitors. Restaurants and businesses are struggling to cope with basic water demands, and the increased volumes are putting a huge pressure on resources.
“I called on the previous Environment Minister Phil Hogan to outline the water provision policy in relation to the islands; however, he passed off the issue saying it was solely a matter for Uisce Éireann. This is a complete departure from previous Governments, even when services were provided by semi-state bodies, Ministers had a policy to ensure that essential services were provided in remote and island locations. The Fine Gael-Labour coalition has taken a totally laissez faire attitude towards public services and seem to be allowing commercial considerations dictate policy.
“I want to see the new Ministers for Rural Development Ann Phelan and Minister for the Gaeltacht Joe McHugh to develop a co-ordinated policy to deal with the emergency situation on Inis Meáin and Inis Oirr, which not only deals with water shortages, but also outlines a comprehensive charging plan for islanders. The neglect of our rural and island communities has to stop. Ministers must step up to the mark, take action and stop making excuses”.