Dáil debates

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Topical Issue Debate

Water Quality

4:25 pm

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour) | Oireachtas source

Seven beaches were closed in north County Dublin during the recent spell of fine weather which the rest of the country was celebrating. Beaches that are well known and were named for their beauty such as Velvet Strand were closed because faecal waste, nappies and so on were floating in the water owing to heavy rain, as a result of which the pumping stations were overflowing. It seems extraordinary that nothing was said by the Minister responsible for the environment. His Department has not yet been renamed, but when it is, I understand he proposes to drop the word "environment" from the title. This would be an environmental disaster. I know that the Government is focused, in particular, on rural Ireland, but believe it or not there are people living in urban Ireland and the closure of all beaches in a heavily populated part of the country is an environmental disaster, about which concern has not been expressed and in respect of which no action has been initiated by the Minister for the environment who, unfortunately, is not able to be with us today. In both Rush and Loughshinny, where there have been problems for years, we are now at the point where if we have a fine summer in which there will be downpours every so often which seems to be the emerging pattern as the climate changes, we could face the closure of beaches for a prolonged period. I ask the Minister what, if anything, the Government intends to do to address this environmental disaster which, if it were to happen even on a single beach in a rural area, I have no doubt we would have six, seven or perhaps ten Ministers falling all over it and possibly running down to inspect the damage. I do not think we have received any ministerial visit.


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