scheme members in Galway are accusing the Government of “abandoning” them and of being “left to the mercy of Irish Water”.
Group scheme members are seeking clarification on a variety of issues ranging from debt write downs to formal take overs, but Irish Water claims that, as of yet, it has not received any direction from the Government as to how the sector will be managed into the future.
Sinn Féin county councillor Tom Healy has been critical of the situation, saying it was “regrettable” that there was no consultation with group scheme members ahead of the establishment of Irish Water.
The Connemara based councillor is also worried by Government plans to delegate responsibility for some of the issues pertaining to group schemes to the Commission for Energy Regulation.
“In such circumstances,” he said, “we can expect a clinical administration of EU law by the commission with no allowance being made for the fact that group schemes are voluntary, not-for-profit, organisations, trying to provide an essential service to rural communities.”
In terms of private group water schemes, Cllr Healy said the Government has “failed to clarify” whether the current State subsidy to these schemes will be continued. According to Cllr Healy, many private scheme members are fearful the subsidy will eventually be abolished as it may contravene EU state aid guidelines and regulations.