Rural towns and villages are set to suffer the lasting consequences of cuts to Irish Water budgets, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.
He noted that the budget cuts would have a significant impact on rural areas where upgrade works were to be carried out or where new sewerage systems were to be put in place.
Speaking on the matter, Deputy Fitzmaurice said: “It is hugely disappointing to see that Irish Water’s budget has been cut for investment in either water or sewerage systems. There are countless projects around the country which require attention; but without adequate funding, these projects will continue to be kicked down the road.
“The Government talks about climate action and water quality, as well as cleaner lakes and turloughs – while at the same time Irish Water is ordered to cut costs by a straight €100 million. This will push a lot of schemes back for a number of years and will leave a lot of small towns without critical infrastructure which will hamper their growth in the immediate future. If you take a closer look at what is going on at the moment, you will notice that some larger towns are being prioritised as a result of pressure being imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA].
“In past Government announcements, there was great fanfare around the level of investment that was going to be put aside for water and sewerage infrastructure. But cuts to the Irish Water budget are likely as a result of the massive budget overruns witnessed in the National Children’s Hospital, the impacts of which we will probably be feeling for some time.
“It is disgraceful to think that many important schemes will be delayed, given that options to purchase in relation to land were already carried out last year. Considering the level of discussion around climate change and water quality in this country, this is proof that we are talking out of both sides of our mouth.
“You have to put the investment in to make Ireland a better place. But there doesn’t seem to a commitment there among the acting Government to help small, rural towns and villages to prosper and increase the number of houses in the area – where there is already a willingness among people to build. The only places which seem to be getting prioritisation is the larger cities, particularly when the EPA is applying pressure.”