Independent TD for Laois-Offaly, Deputy Carol Nolan has urged the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to explain why a report containing research and information on the rural water sector will not be published.

Deputy Nolan was speaking in the Dáil after Minister Darragh O’Brien said that work is “not yet complete” and that the final report is “not intended to be published”.

The independent TD was surprised that work is still ongoing and that the final report has been categorised as “not for publication”. Minister O’Brien must explain why the rural water report will not be published, Deputy Nolan said:

“We need to know – in both the interests of transparency and of having a thoroughly informed debate around rural water issues – why the decision has been made not to publish the final report, especially as the taxpayer is handing over €200,000 for the privilege.”

Minister O’Brien confirmed that his department had incurred costs of €199,365 for “the provision of research and information on the rural water sector, and to support the rural water working group in carrying out its work”.

The working group was established in 2018 to review wider investment needs relating to rural water services and to recommend measures ensuring an equitable outcome between those who receive water services from Irish Water and non-customers, Deputy Nolan explained.

The independent TD for Laois-Offaly said she fully supports those objectives. However, Deputy Nolan added:

“If there is a good reason why the public and those in rural Ireland in particular should not have access to this final report, then let the minister come out and state what that reason is.

“I will be pursuing him on this matter until we have greater clarity and accountability than we have at present,” Deputy Nolan said.