Saturday 16 December 2017

Government will spend €3.4bn on water infrastructure... but it's not enough, Ó Broin

Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin. Photo: Tom Burke
Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin. Photo: Tom Burke

Cillian Sherlock

A member of the Oireachtas Water Charges Committee has said the government will spend €3.4bn on our water infrastructure in the next five years.

However Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin added that this is not enough.

“Clearly there is a greater capacity for investment but that requires political choices. Does Government want to give tax breaks to the wealthy by implementing election commitments around the USC?

“Or does it want to invest more of that money in tackling both the infrastructural deficits in the distribution system and antiquated level of waste water treatment plants?” he said.

Speaking RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Deputy Ó Broin said the government will need to borrow money to tackle the problem.

“Under this plan the bulk of that funding comes through borrowing. Initially what the government was proposing was private sector borrowing.

"Thankfully government is actively considering switching that to lower cost government borrowing which will save the taxpayer some amount of money,” he said.

Deputy Ó Broin, who is also the party spokesman on Housing, Planning and Local and Local Government, highlighted problems in our water delivery and treatment systems.

“The Irish Government is currently in front of the European Court of Justice because we have approximately 40 waste water treatment plants pumping raw sewage into our rivers and lakes and very clearly there’s a need for significant increased investment,” he said.

He said Sinn Féin’s alternative budget identified last year that a further €340m was necessary on top of the €270m the government was investing in water.

“I talked to water service engineers in local authorities in different parts of the country and they would tell us that they are putting in applications to Irish Water for capital project upgrades and they’re getting refused.

“Likewise we’ve had the Environmental Protection Agency in front of the Oireachtas committee recently. They’ve identified 124 locations where there are issues in relation to waste water treatment,” he added.

“The real issue is does Government have the political will to do something it has never done which is invest adequately in this vital public service,” Deputy Ó Broin said.

The same programme reported that the current spending plan for 2017-2021 will see Donegal getting six times the investment it saw between 2014-2016, while Meath and Sligo will be receiving a four-fold increase.

It was also reported that Dublin alone will receive €871m.

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