Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that funding for the 2017 grant allocations to local authorities for group water and group sewerage schemes is a drop in the ocean in comparison to the cuts imposed on the schemes over the last number of years. Deputy McGrath was speaking as Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. Eoghan Murphy confirmed that an additional €3.6 million will be paid under the 2017 Rural Water Programme on top of the €11.6 million announced in June:
“While an ‘increase’ of €3.6 million for the coming year is of course better than a cut, we need to remember that it was a Fine Gael led government that slashed almost €50 million from the Group Water Scheme from 2011-2016.
The information provided to me in a Parliamentary Question show that in 2011 the Department funded all local authorities to administer the Rural Water Programme to the tune of €70,116,335.
By 2016 that amount had dropped to €20,902,851. That is an astonishing gap of almost €50 million which has still not been explained by any Minister.
In Tipperary alone during the same period there was a reduction in payments under the Rural Water Programme from €1,953,229 in 2011 to €718,558 in 2016.
That is a cut of €1.2 million.
So, while the €415,000 that will be given to Tipperary County Council is welcome, it remains a pittance in comparison to what was taken.
We can also see from the data provided that between 2015 and 2016 the amount paid to Private Well operators in Tipperary was down from €92,905 to €71,407.
These figures prove that more and more responsibility was being put on the Group Water Scheme operators while less and less support was being given to them from the Department over the course of the last five years,” concluded Deputy McGrath.