Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Hazardous Waste Removal
I accept the Minister's response. While I have the greatest respect for him, I believe what we are seeing is a transfer of authority from the Minister to the Department of Defence, although it has not happened yet. I reiterate the point that, as far as the people of the Great Island and Cobh and the surrounding areas are concerned, this is a whole-of-Government responsibility and they do not necessarily see into the internal workings of the various silos within Government and between the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Defence.
Some €61 million was originally allocated for this during the lifetime of the last Government and my understanding is that only €23 million has been spent so far. We acknowledge the work done thus far but there is more to be done, for example, a significant amount of site remediation work. I have not had a clear answer from Government in respect of when that will happen. We know the recreational park will open some time in 2019 and that will add significantly to the public use value of the site, which is a positive public good. However, we need to hear from the Government specific answers to specific questions as to whether the remainder of the fund will be made available to do the work at the South Tip and at the former steel plant itself. To my mind, the Minister has not responded satisfactorily in that respect.
I ask the Government to revisit the issue and give us a clear picture of what the likely outcome will be, given there was a ring-fenced allocation of approximately €60 million in funding and that has not been spent. Are we now given to understand this has been shelved in favour of other priorities in the capital programme? It is an important issue.