Galway achieved a 70 per cent recycling rate on a shoestring budget – because householders had the vision to show both politicians and local authority managers what was possible.
That’s what Deputy Catherine Connolly told the Dail last week in her contribution to the heated debate on pay-per-weight refuse charges.
BY TIM RYAN
She said that it was the people who made the difference in Galway – not the charges or the Council or any regulation of the market.
“The people of Galway showed politicians and, more importantly, management what was possible. They led us by the nose,” she said.
“When we were told by engineers, whose reports cost millions of euros, that we could not achieve zero waste and that we could only get to 45% recycling, we reached 70% recycling on a shoestring budget on a pilot project. On an ongoing basis, we diverted 56% from landfill on a shoestring budget.
“The people said: ‘We are not passive consumers, we are not people to be told, we will tell you, we want to be part of society, we know how important it is’, and they led the way. What happened? The service was privatised under Government policy,” she added.
Deputy Connolly said that Minister Denis Naughten should “stop insulting us, telling us about fake news, stating that the market is the only way forward and indicating that he is being forced to regulate a market that, of its nature, cannot be regulated.”
Some services are essential, she said.
“They are essential for any civilised, democratic society. We should not seek to divide and conquer on these issues and we should not seek to distinguish the poor people and those who need incontinence sheets from those who do not. This is an essential service. If the Minister does not accept that, perhaps he might consider what was done in Galway, a matter to which I have referred ad nauseam in this House since I was elected,” said the Galway West TD
Minister of State Seán Kyne told the House that twelve months ago, there was a plan to introduce pay-by-weight per kilogram as the only pricing model which would be available to customers of household waste collection.
This caused some concern as it appeared that certain collectors were using the new initiative as an opportunity to increase prices and the Government made a decision not to introduce pay-by-weight at that time.
“A voluntary agreement was reached with waste operators to hold the current prices and plans for twelve months,” he said.
“The potential introduction of pay-by-weight was to be reviewed to inform decisions in regard to the charging arrangements beyond July 1 2017.”
The Government has decided to proceed with a new framework that will give waste collectors the flexibility to continue to offer, or to introduce, a range of incentivised pricing options which encourage householders to reduce and separate their waste while choosing the service price offering that best suits their circumstances and allows them to manage their costs, he said.
These options include elements or combinations of per lift, per kilogramme, weight bands, weight allowances and standing charges. This offers the widest choice to consumers to help them manage their costs.
“Approximately half of households are already on these types of offerings, so the public is familiar with these options,” he added.
An annual support of €75 will be introduced for persons with lifelong or long-term medical incontinence, he said. This will help people meet the average annual cost of disposal of incontinence products.
The details and arrangements of this support will be finalised later this year after further consultation with the stakeholder groups.
Galway Lotto prize winner off to see the King!
A National Lottery player from Conamara is still in disbelief after claiming their EuroMillions ‘Ireland Only Raffle’ ticket worth a staggering €1,005,000 this week – and is already planning a trip to Graceland!
The player, who wishes to remain anonymous, said they didn’t realise they had the winning ticket.
“I was looking at my ticket and it didn’t have any of the EuroMillions numbers, I didn’t think I’d won anything, so I threw it somewhere in the car. I completely forgot to check the raffle code on the bottom of the ticket!
“A few weeks later I decided to do a clear out of the car and I found the ticket wedged down the side of the seat. I scanned the ticket on the app and called the National Lottery Claims Team and that’s when they told me I was a millionaire! I couldn’t speak, I was in such complete and utter shock!
“I had a plan to surprise my wife for her birthday by putting the cheque in the card, but my great plan lasted all of one hour, I just had to tell her, I couldn’t keep it a secret any longer!”, they added.
The player purchased the winning EuroMillions ticket worth €1,005,000 on the day of the draw, Friday 19th August, in Costcutter in Beal an Dangan.
They revealed some plans they hope to achieve with the new life-changing prize.
“We’ve always wanted to go to Graceland in Memphis to visit the home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll himself. That’s all we have in mind for the moment, we’re still letting it all sink in”, they said.
Exhumations to begin next year at Tuam Mother and Baby Home site
A full exhumation of the bodies of children buried in the grounds of Tuam Mother and Baby Home will begin in 2023.
A ‘Director of Authorised Intervention’ is to be appointed by Government to oversee the excavation of the site where it is believed almost 800 children were interred in an unmarked grave.
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, in bringing matter before the Dáil, said it was incumbent on the State to address what was “a stain on our national conscience”.
Deputy Catherine Connolly, TD for Galway West, said while the news on the exhumation was welcome, she had “lost faith” in the Government which she said had “learnt absolutely nothing” and had to be “dragged” every step of the way.
It had failed to bring forward a redress scheme for survivors of the home, she said, and Minister O’Gorman had rowed back on a previous commitment to have an independent human rights review of the testimony provided by survivors to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.
“I don’t think he should ever have promised that because he was never in a position to do it. He was never going to question the establishment narrative given to us by the three wise commissioners, the narrative that told us that the evidence of those who came forward was contaminated and should therefore be treated with caution,” said Deputy Connolly.
“We continue to begrudge and to do everything belatedly. If we are seriously interested in redress, let us do it right.”
Paying tribute to those who shone a light on the wrongdoings in the Tuam Home and elsewhere, Deputy Connolly said it was they who had forced the Government’s hand.
“On the ground, we have seen Catherine Corless and, well before her, Mary Raftery. I also want to mention Patricia Burke Brogan [activist and playwright] who died last week – may she rest in peace – with regard to the work she did in respect of the Magdalen laundries, in particular with the play Eclipsed.
“The groups on the ground have certainly forced us and dragged us every step of the way,” she said.
Agreeing, Minister O’Gorman said it was absolutely right to recognise critical the role of Tuam historian, Catherine Corless.
“We would not be here today but for her dogged persistence in highlighting what happened in Tuam.
“Deputy Connolly mentioned the redress legislation. This legislation has been worked on by my Department over the summer and I will bring it to Cabinet in October to seek approval for the final Bill and to bring it rapidly through the Houses [of the Oireachtas] and the committee, so that we can provide redress to family members,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Seán Canney, TD for Galway East, said what had happened had impacted the people of Tuam deeply and said the Director, when he or she is appointed, should be based in Galway and seek to engage with locals during the excavation process.
“It has created a sense of a stain on, or a shadow over Tuam as a town. Tuam is a very good town and has the finest people living there.
“The Minister has set out in his speech how a Director would be appointed . . . and that an office will be set up to manage the excavation and all that goes with it. However, it is important that there is local engagement with the people of the town,” said Deputy Canney.
“The office should be set in the town and there should be a liaison aspect to the brief that this director will have so people from the locality who want to know what is going on can find out,” he continued, adding that locals should be able to meet the Director in Tuam and not Dublin or anywhere else.
Minister O’Gorman outlined that the Director would oversee a phased forensic-standard excavation, recovery, analysis and re-interment of the remains.
“The order also provides that the Director will carry out an identification programme as an additional function for the intervention,” he said.
Customs ‘dip’ for green diesel on Aran island
Revenue officers made an unannounced visit to Inis Mór last week – with around 10 customs officials performing spot checks for marked diesel.
The Connacht Tribune understands that three motorists were nabbed by the officers for driving with ‘green diesel’ – a fuel only permissible for off-road use, mainly in agriculture.
According to a source in Revenue, this surprise visit is a return to normal service, with spot checks having stalled during Covid.
As part of the operation, customs officers were drafted in from various locations and travelled to the island without prior notice to Gardaí.
Having arrived by ferry from both Galway Docks and Ros a’ Mhíl, officers performed a number of checks at the Pier in Kilronan and also visited Dún Aonghasa.
Vehicles were dipped for green diesel for which tax is paid at a much cheaper rate than road diesel. Those convicted of using marked diesel on the roads face a maximum fine of up to €5,000.
A garda spokesperson confirmed that a group of Revenue officers visited Inis Mór on Friday, September 16, and were facilitated by gardaí on the island.