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Ó Cuív prepared to go to jail over septic tank charge

Deputy Éamon Ó Cúív.
Deputy Éamon Ó Cúív.

Former FF Minister Ó Cuív prepared to go to jail over septic-tank charges

Anton McNulty

The former Fianna Fáil Minister, Éamon Ó Cuív is prepared to go to prison in protest against proposed charges for the inspection and maintenance of septic tanks.
The Galway West TD was speaking on Radio na Gaeltachta on Friday morning where he said he would be unable to accept such charges and would object strongly to the proposal when it comes before government. He said that he would be prepared to go to prison if due regard was not given to equality in terms of charges levied on rural and urban communities.
“If there is not equality between the charges that will be levied in cities and those levied on rural communities I will not accept it, and neither should rural communities,” he said.
Mr Ó Cuív added that he was confident that the government understood that such inequality would be unacceptable, and that it would be necessary to provide grants for upgrading septic tanks if such upgrades were needed.
The Government is proposing that all householders who have septic tanks be required to have their waste systems regularly inspected and maintained. Householders would be expected to replace septic tanks that do not comply with standards, and fines would to be imposed for non-compliance.

Growing opposition

Opposition to septic-tank charges has started to grow across the west, with a series of public meetings organised by North West MEP Marian Harkin. A recent meeting took place in Claremorris, and Harkin said the large attendance reflected the sheer frustration and anger of owners of single-house sewerage systems. Harkin added that this charge is regarded as a discriminatory and unfair imposition on one sector of the community.
“Any proposal to have septic tanks compulsorily inspected at cost to owners is unfair and unjust because it selectively imposes charges on the owners of single houses only. For all other homeowners these services are paid for from central funding. Rural people pay their taxes just the same as those who live in towns, villages and cities and should therefore be entitled to the same services.
“I have over the years raised the issue of the multi-million-euro investment of EU and national funds in sewerage infrastructure in Ireland and pointed out that a proportionate share of those funds needed to be dedicated to single-house sewerage systems. Unfortunately this has not happened and no public monies have ever been invested in upgrading septic tanks,” she explained.

Local authorities under fire
She added that ‘it would be unjust in the extreme to impose registration, inspection or upgrading charges on individuals when the local authorities are themselves, by far, the worst offenders’. 
Ms Harkin said she was organising meetings to develop a strategy that will include seeking representation on the committee established by the Government to advise an upcoming legislation on this matter.
“This will be essential in order to ensure that no excessive and unnecessary measures are included and that the principle of parity with urban dwellers is observed. Selective and unfair charges such as those planned by the government for single house owners will be strongly opposed if the views expressed in Claremorris are reflected at other meetings organised for the eleven counties of the North West constituency,” she said.