Council to approach Government a second time for water assistance

Hardship fund proposed as potential backup plan

The Galway City Council has voted to make a second bid to the Government seeking funding to assist with the pipe replacement in Old Mervue and other areas of the city affected by the lead water crisis.

The decision came during Monday’s Galway City Council meeting when, following an update of the current situation regarding the water, three city councillors put forward a motion to seek additional funding from the Department of Environment to assist the residents of Old Mervue with the process of connecting the new water main to the individual homes in the area.

The motion, which was put forth by councillors Brian Walsh, Terry O’Flaherty, and Declan McDonnell, was quickly amended by councillors Catherine and Collette Connolly so that all areas of the city affected by the contamination would benefit from any funding by the government.

The need for the motion came after Fine Gael Senator Fidelma Healy Eames requested a grant scheme in the Dail to assist families who could not afford to connect to the new pipes, many of which only reach the boundary of the house. According to the director of infrastructure Ciaran Hayes, the connections could cost up to €1,200 per household. The senator’s request was controversially rejected, prompting the city council back into action.

City officials announced on the evening that they expect to have works completed in Old Mervue by September of next year and in the remainder of council homes by the end of 2009. Unless funding comes through from the Government private householders will be individually responsible for the installation of new pipes in their homes.

Looking for any funding possibilities, council members made suggestions that the money saved from the tankers, which cost approximately €2,000 per week, could be used to help fund the pipe connections. Mr Hayes, however, squashed the idea telling the council that, although the residents claim not to use the tankers, he is obliged to provide a clean water supply in the contaminated areas.

City manager Joe MacGrath did provide some hope however, stating that there was some funding available from the Water Conservation Project but that he did not know how much would be included in a package for the city. He did tell the council to be optimistic, however, that they would get the public funding from the project.

Independent Cllr Daniel Callanan also proposed that the council look into the establishment of a hardship fund should they be rejected by the Government once again. Mr MacGrath told the councillors that with the current economic climate a hardship fund will be hard to come by but that, should they get a second no from Dublin, he would support the council looking into the idea.

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