Dáil debates

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

2:35 pm

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent) | Oireachtas source

In the past few weeks we have witnessed the devastation caused by flooding in many areas throughout the country. In the past week I attended two meetings with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the drawing up of new maps, which process I have discovered to my horror is not being carried out in local offices, which is rather unusual.

I welcome the €5 million compensation fund for small businesses. The Taoiseach will probably have seen for himself the many family farms, slatted sheds and fodder damaged by flooding. Septic tanks, on which people had to pay a €5 levy following the introduction of legislation in January 2011, have also been damaged. I have learned in the past few days that the cost of repairs to damaged septic tanks which are registered but outside the 5% required to be inspected annually will not be met by the council or the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. The people concerned who abided by the law introduced by the Government in 2011 will have to meet the cost of repairs to their septic tanks, only because they are not included in the 5% of septic tanks required to be inspected annually under EU law.

Will the Taoiseach clarify if a family farm which is affected, whether it is its slatted shed or fodder, is considered a business? I class family farms across the country as businesses run by farmers.

Will the Taoiseach put one person or body in charge? There are currently 17 bodies looking after the Shannon. The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is sitting next to the Taoiseach. We have the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Inland Fisheries Ireland. Each organisation is blocking the other and the OPW, with the best will in the world, is going around in circles. It is trying to play happy families with everyone but it is being blocked. For once and for all, can we take the bull by the horns? Will one body with the authority to carry out relief works for flooding, dredging or whatever, without every obstacle possible being put in its way, be made responsible for the rivers? Will family farms receive payment under the SME scheme? Given the septic tank legislation, will a payment be made to those who are not in the 5% category? Currently they are being refused even though they complied with the law.


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