Independent Councillor, Frank McBrearty, has today (Saturday) criticised the recent
concerns raised by members of Fine Gael regarding the on-going sewerage issues in St Johnston, branding their comments as ‘laughable’.
Councillor McBrearty made the remarks after it emerged that Fine Gael candidate in the Stranorlar Electoral Area, Bert Galbraith, who this week has been shining the spotlight on the town’s inappropriate sewerage treatment system, did so while on the campaign trail with fellow party member and government minister, Dinny McGinley TD.
This being the case despite the fact, according to Cllr McBrearty, that many within the party have known about the problems in St Johnston for a number of years now and have chosen instead not to act, describing their latest comments as being ‘too little, too late’, and being tantamount to ‘political point scoring’.
“For the past five years now that I have been a member of Donegal County Council, I have been quite vocal in exposing and highlighting the critical lack of infrastructure which exists in the town of St Johnston, particularly with regards to the town’s inadequate sewerage system.”
“During this time, while I have been proactive in working with the community here who have been directly affected by this reoccurring problem, I have watched members of the Fine Gael party stand idly by and do nothing to help the people of St Johnston. Not only is it bemusing, but I find it quite ironic and unpalatable that certain members of the chief government party now feel compelled to act and highlight this issue, what with elections only a few weeks away - where have they and their party been until this point?”
“What amazes me is the sheer lack of communication which seems to exist within the Fine Gael party on this issue. By Mr. Galbraith’s own admission, the current problems in St Johnston is something which he is very much aware of, my argument is then, if this is the case, then why hasn’t he properly consulted with his fellow party colleagues - including current Fine Gael councillor, Martin Harley – so that he could have received all the facts in relation to this situation in the town, which the council have been working on relentlessly for the past number of years now, instead of making premature comments in order to be populist? Had this been done, then Mr. Galbraith would have been aware of the progress which has been made to date by the council. What the people of St Johnston need is real help, not political rhetoric to simply win votes at an election time.”
Commenting further, Cllr McBrearty said that it has not only been those in Fine Gael whom have failed to act in relation to the difficulties which continue to face the people living in St Johnston, as he insists that none of the main political parties have actively worked to address this crisis in the town.
“During the tenure of the previous government which was led by Fianna Fáil prior to the last general election, the then Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, visited the area and she herself saw first-hand the problems which exist locally, so much so that while visiting one estate in particular, Ms Coughlan was forced to watch her step as sewage ran through the estate.”
Detailing the work which he personally has done in order to bring this situation to a resolve, Cllr McBrearty states that it has been through his continued lobbying while working within Donegal County Council, that funding for the sewerage system in the affected housing estates has been secured, and that subsequent tenders have been submitted for selection.
“I have been making representations on behalf of those living in the estates in question, and as a result of this action, we in Donegal County Council have secured €250,000 for the preliminary design stage for an improved sewerage system.”
“Following on from this, four tenders for the project were submitted for the building of the new treatment system for St Johnston, and those tenders have now been sent to URS Consultant Engineers in Belfast for assessment, and once this process has been completed, the budget for the project then needs to come from Irish Water’s Capital Programme before it can finally begin.”
“This funding is required from Irish Water before we can commence with the project, and I am hopeful that this will happen, so that communities in St Johnston are no longer left with such an inadequate service.”
“I feel that the Environmental Protection Agency must also wake up and recognise that the poor condition of the sewerage system here is environmentally damaging, and places the health of locals in jeopardy.”
Praising the people of St Johnston for their patience, Cllr McBrearty has called on the people of the area to voice their anger regarding the unenviable situation in which they have found themselves these past few years, urging them to lodge an official complaint to the relevant authorities.
“The people of St Johnston have been fantastic during this whole debacle, and their patience has been nothing short of remarkable.”
“It’s now vital that people in this area make their feelings known, and I would ask them to get in contact with Irish Water, in the hope that this matter can finally be resolved. By airing their grievances to Irish Water, the people most affected by this terrible situation can let the utility body know that they aren’t going to stand for a service which is not fit for purpose; the more complaints which Irish Water receive from the people living here in St Johnston pertaining to this appalling service, then the greater the chance that Irish Water will subsequently earmark the St Johnston area for this much needed funding.”
Referring to the millions which have already been spent by the new water utility company on consultancy fees to date, McBrearty was also critical, citing the expenditure as being both ‘wasteful’ and something which - had it been spent much more wisely - could have greatly improved the infrastructure of towns such as St Johnston.
Complaints can be made to Irish Water by contacting them on Lo-Call 1890 278 278.
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