Minister Hogan insists there is 'huge potential' in Sligo
THE Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, told The Sligo Champion that there is 'huge potential' for Sligo with the appointment of new county manager, Ciaran Hayes.
He said: "Every new appointment has their own particular style and plans for an area, it is an opportunity for a new manager to put his or her stamp on the local area.
"What I would be advising is to work closely with the elected members and the community in a collaborative way to achieve the objectives for Sligo.
"There is huge potential for Sligo.
"I know that there is a financial strain on the local authority at the moment and there has been for awhile, but I know that he has already been in discussions with my department to try and work through those issues and resolve them over a period of time."
He also spoke about the recent garda phone-taping scandal. "It was a major shock this week.
"The last thing that we expected the Taoiseach to tell the Cabinet about was that there was serious problems in relation to recordings of material that could have an impact, not just on cases that were before the courts, but on historic convictions in the court process.
"So we moved to establish a commission of investigation to deal with and transcribe all of the material on the particular tapes over a period of time and to assess them legally to see if the judgements that were made were sound or the impact they were having on some high profile cases that are before the courts at the moment.
"A lot of people didn't expect to hear that and certainly the Cabinet didn't expect to hear that information."
Talking about the ongoing transition to Irish Water, he said that €10 million is needed to be spent on water around the country in the next ten years.
"We cannot take this from the Public Capital Programme because the Government doesn't have the money.
"The taxpayer is already paying enough in respect of provision of services.
"So the only way we can do it is to borrow this amount of money in the marketplace.
"We had to set up a vehicle in order to achieve that off balance sheet and that is the reason why we established a semi-state company, Irish Water, which will work with local government in order to invest twice as much money in the years ahead.
"If we don't have good quality water, we won't be able to attract jobs and we won't have good public health in any area so it is going to be a period of time before we see the fruits of this particular investment, but we have to start somewhere."
He added that January 15 is the date for when people can expect their first water bill.
He said that it is the water regulator who will make the final decision as to how much the free allowance is going to be, but the Government will be making a submission to the water regulatory authority in relation to the subvention for the free allowance and the affordability measures.
He said that, yes, the water metering is on schedule.
"There is 28,000 metres a month being installed and I think that the fact that people are being engaged with with respect by the water contractors in the various estates is an indication that it is going very well."
Minister Hogan was visiting Strandhill to officially launch a new tourism map for the region.
He met with representatives from the local business and sporting community and heard about their respective plans.
Paul Buchanan, Strandhill Surf School, joked with the Minister that he should have been a basketball player.