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Has Hogan defused the septic tank row that could have been a stinker?

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Date Published: {J}

Environment Minister Phil Hogan will need to keep his fingers crossed that his announcement last week of that €50 charge to register septic tanks will quell one of the biggest political rows the west has seen.

Compared to the potential anger among the thousands of septic tank owners, the row over whether to cut turf in western bogs, is small-time stuff. The once-off houses in rural areas and in areas not served by sewerage and water services have ensured that there are thousands of householders deeply incensed at this issue.

Hogan, in the Dail, announced that the charge would be once-off and the money would be used to run the septic tank inspection systen which would conform with the European Union regulations on the septic tanks. It was up to the government to set up a system, or face massive fines from the EU.

Also keeping their fingers crossed will that swollen crop of Galway government TDs, most especially Sean Kyne and Brian Walsh (Fine Gael West Galway) – an area with one of the highest concentrations of septic tanks in the country.

It will also be a headache for Paul Connaughton and Ciaran Cannon (FG East Galway) and Colm Keaveney (Labour East Galway) who will have noted the size of the attendances at those recent meetings on the issue called by Marian Harkin MEP.

Galway was one area where the talk of a possible €300 fee – possibly per annum along with huge maintenance bills to keep the tanks up to the required standard – had resulted in hundreds of home owners turning out to those public meetings to voice their objection …. and show the government the major controversy this could become.

 

Then came last week’s announcement of a once off €50 registration fee for the thousands of septic tank owners. He said it was definitely a once off and the funding raised would go towards the cost of carrying out the inspections.

But one of the leading campaigners in this row, Fianna Fail Deputy Leader Eamon Ó Cuív TD said this week that he had doubts whether some of the tank owners would accept even the concept of registration – it enshrined with a registration system the difference in treatment in this country between urban and rural dwellers.

He said that any charge promised as a once off might well be varied, and the inspection process to lead to real trouble ‘on the ground.’ He asked that would happen if there were houses where a neighbour had a traditional septic tank and the other had put in a very costly treatment system costing thousands. How could they be treated equally.

Fine Gael Dail Deputy Brian Walsh said that he and the other FG West Galway Deputy, Sean Kyne, would be pressing for the introduction of a grants scheme to be introduced at the same time as the registration system so that householders whose septic tank systems were not approved by the inspectors, would be aided in replacing the system.

He said that the present government had in many respects been left to pick up on another total dereliction of duty by the Fianna Fail-Green government which knew that the problem was there, that the EU was annoyed and yet it had done nothing about this septic tanks issue.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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