McNamara Secures Government Commitment On Wastewater Infrastructure Scheme

Independent TD Michael McNamara has secured a commitment from the Minister for Public Expenditure to explore the continuation and expansion of a pilot scheme that delivers essential wastewater infrastructure in coastal communities that are presently unsewered.

Highlighting the continued absence of such infrastructure in towns and villages like Carrigaholt, Doolin and Spanish Point and others across the State, Deputy McNamara told Minister Paschal Donohoe that continued government investment is required to resolve an issue that neither local authorities nor Uisce Éireann are taking responsibility for.

Responding to Deputy McNamara, Minister Donohoe said the continuation and expansion of the pilot €50m scheme for essential sewage infrastructure for rural villages would be considered as part of Budget 2024 this autumn.

Having raised the matter with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dáil Éireann last week, Deputy McNamara again highlighted the issue during Questions on Promised Legislation this week.

“That €50 million could be used in Clare alone,” stated Deputy McNamara. “There are unsewered communities in Carrigaholt, Doolan and Spanish Point. Broadford and Cooraclare have applied for the scheme. Larger counties like Cork would need a multiple of that figure.”

Deputy McNamara told Minister Donohoe that Ireland is in breach of environmental standards across the country.

“Sewerage is not the responsibility of local authorities. Uisce Éireann does not want to know; if it is not sewered already its attitude is that it has enough difficulty dealing with what it has and will not do any more,” he added. “Does the Minister think it will get cheaper to provide these sewers? If not, what actions will be taken on a multiannual basis to ensure that every settlement in the country is sewered. I am not referring to one-off houses, but where there are settlements or villages we need a sewer and wastewater treatment. What is the Government going to do about it?”

In response, Minister Donohoe said, “In recognition of the issue the Deputy has raised, that is why the fund was put in place in the first place. I take his point that the demand for it is probably many times bigger than the nature of the fund itself. I will work on this matter with the Minister, Deputy O’Brien, in the context of budget 2024 and beyond because I accept for communities who do not have access to sewers, namely towns and villages rather than one-off houses, it is a very serious issue.”