THE growing resentment over septic tank charges has descended into outright political warfare – with claim and counter-claim over the costs of implementing EU laws…and the possible bill for households costing thousands.
While the Government has done a U-turn on the tax and plans to implement a €50 registration fee instead, people are beginning to realise that many of them may have to find up to €5,000 to upgrade their systems.
And last night Donegal Senator Brian O Domhnaill launched a scathing attack on the Government parties, accusing them of being ‘cowards’ for refusing an Oireachtas debate.
The Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Agriculture described as ‘cowardly’ the refusal by Fine Gael and Labour to facilitate a debate on septic tank charges in the Seanad.
Senator Ó Domhnaill commented: “Fianna Fáil put forward an amendment to the Order of Business in the Seanad, calling on Seanad Éireann to oppose upcoming septic tank charges. In what can only be seen as a cowardly move, Fine Gael and Labour Senators refused to even debate the motion and blocked it out-right before a discussion could take place.
“In my view this amounts to a blatant refusal by the Government Senators to even acknowledge what is a very real issue for more than 400,000 households nationwide.
“They cannot continue to ignore the fact that there is ongoing opposition to this Government’s moves to hit households directly with the cost of registering their septic tanks as well as the full cost of upgrading them.”
And it is the latter point which could yet come back to haunt this government, said the Gortahork man.
He added: “Following the initial inspection and registration charge, many households are facing bills of thousands of euro to upgrade their tanks. The bottom line is they simply cannot afford it. In addition to this, the Environment Minister Phil Hogan has created total confusion over the recurring nature of the registration charge.
“Fianna Fáil believe all of this warrants a full and open debate by all sides of the House, but clearly Fine Gael and Labour do not agree. They are simply content to penalise rural communities with what is fundamentally an unfair charge and hope that they can avoid being held to account for doing so.”
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