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“Funding for Rural Water Programme Grants in Tipperary down €1.2 million,” Mattie McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said statistics released to him by Minister Simon Coveney regarding the amount paid to Group Water Scheme operators confirms the absolute need to introduce exemptions IN any future water charging regime. Deputy McGrath was speaking after information he requested through a Parliamentary Question showed that there was a massive drop in Grant payments issued by the Department of Local Government to Group Water Schemes and Private Well owners from 2011-2016:

“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 needs to be explained by the 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.

We can also see from the data provided that between 2015 and 2016 the amount paid to Private Well operators was down from €92,905 to €71,407.

This is going to cause huge frustration within rural society particularly In light of the recent proposals to impose an additional de facto water tax on this sector which is ostensibly aimed at maintaining and improving the current water infrastructure.

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.

Any national conversation we have on the water charging issue must prioritise equity for this vitally important sector within rural Ireland,” concluded Deputy McGrath.