Rural Ireland must get ‘equal treatment’ following decision to refund water charges

People in rural Ireland must receive equal treatment from the government in light of the recent decision to refund water charges, according to Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Fitzmaurice, who was elected to represent the Roscommon-Galway constituency, welcomed the news that water charges are to be refunded to those who paid.

But he called on the government to show some consideration to people who are on Group Water Schemes, those who are using their own wells and people who have had to upgrade their septic tanks and sewage facilities.

He said: “The refund to those who have paid is welcome, but there are many people who are on Group Water Schemes – and who have their own wells – who must be considered by the government as they consider the water supply situation.

“People who have their own septic tanks in rural Ireland have not been properly considered by successive governments; many people have had to endure huge costs to comply with the legislation in this area.”

Measures for rural Ireland

Fitzmaurice called on the government and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, to announce an increase in the subvention to Group Water Schemes – by at least €100/house.

If the constitution says that every citizen should be treated equally, then that is the minimum that people living in rural areas and who are paying for their water for many years should expect.

“Similarly, people in towns and cities will have a free sewage system; I am proposing that the government should announce a scheme whereby the repair and upgrade of septic tanks are also funded out of central funds.

“The system as it stands with regard to septic tanks is grossly unfair and it only covers about 5% of what is required. The average cost of repair and upgrade for a septic tank is €12,000 to €15,000,” he said.

If the government claims that it will be able to fund water and sewage systems out of general taxation – and that those who have paid water charges will get a refund – it should be able to afford to fund septic tank repairs and upgrades, as well as proper investment in Group Water Schemes, Fitzmaurice concluded.

It is believed that approximately €170 million will be needed in order to refund the money gathered through water charges; people who paid can expect a refund prior to Christmas.