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Political pitch becomes ever muddier over water

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Spiddal...water issues exacerbated by growth.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

My abiding childhood memory of winters in Galway was of parallel rain sheeting in from the bay over the Prom. There were few Irish records too in the Guinness Book of Records. One of them was that Ballinahinch in Connemara was the wettest place in the British Isles.

So if everything else failed in the world, water just did not seem to be an issue in Ireland.

But it is – on all kinds of levels; not just drinking water but also waste water and sewage.

There was a report in the paper that 43 urban centres in Ireland are still pumping raw sewage into the sea. One of those is Spiddal.

A decade ago there were reports in the paper saying that Spiddal was pumping raw sewage into the sea. Since than the situation hasn’t changed at all – except for one detail; Spiddal now is much bigger than it was then.

Besides those 43 urban centres there are countless places where there is waste treatment, where it isn’t good enough. And then there are countless smaller places where raw sewage is still being pumped where it should not be.

And that’s before we even get to drinking water.

It is true we get a lot of rain, but unlike other places, a surprisingly small percentage of it is absorbed and retained in wells – a lot of it runs off. For fresh water, we rely a lot on our river and lake systems, the big basins like the Shannon, the Liffey or the Corrib.

The pressures on the current system is close to breaking point. By 2050, the population along the East coast will have grown so much that an additional 330 million litres of water per day will be required, on top of the over 500 to 600 million litres being used daily now.

Dublin is quickly approaching desert city status. Its main source of water is the Liffey. But it is drawing so much on it now that the Liffey flow is only 40 per cent of what it should be.

The spare capacity of water in Dublin is eight per cent (compared to ten to 15 per cent in other European cities). If there’s a prolonged drought, the city’s going to be parched. That situation obviously can’t pertain into the future.

The obvious – if controversial – solution to extract water from the Lower Shannon at Parteen Basin and then pipe it to Dublin. The alternative is a very expensive desalination plan, using water taken from the Irish Sea.

On the other side of this, the quality of drinking water is comparatively good in Ireland generally but you are still getting boil notices operating in Roscommon, or really serious situations like the cryptosporidium outbreak in Galway a few years ago.

The bottom line with all of this is that huge investment is needed in water services over the coming decades. And no matter which way it happens, it’s ultimately the taxpayer who is going to foot the bill.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Prodigal son Bertie could be set for return to the fold

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Bertie Ahern speaking at the announcement of the Good Friday Agreement.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

I’d actually forgotten that Bertie Ahern wasn’t a member of Fianna Fáil until the issue was brought up at the parliamentary party meeting of TDs and senators last week.

He was in Coventry or Purdah – or wherever politicians with a whiff of scandal around them are put – for a number of years but he’s been back at the centre of the political and public stage for so long now, you begin to forget that he was ever away.

And so last week, Donegal senator Niall Blaney stood up and addressed his colleagues right at the end of the meeting. He said 2023 would mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The party needed to put its best foot forward to commemorate it.

Out of the blue, he then said that should include welcoming Bertie Ahern back into the party fold. He called on the party to act in “a spirit of inclusivity”.

It was one of those moments that Conamara people have a great expression for. ‘Tháinig sé Aniar Aduaidh orainn’ (it surprised us from the North West).

It had not been on the meeting agenda but now it was very much on the party’s agenda. Others piped up. Offaly TD Barry Cowen said that the time had come to readmit Ahern to Fianna Fáil. Over the next 24 hours colleagues joined in, saying a lot of water had flown under the bridge since a decade ago.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Sinn Féin still to learn that populism comes at a price

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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald meets up with US speaker Nancy Pelosi on her American tour last week.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

The Dáil kicked off again yesterday with the usual circus of press conferences, tetchy exchanges in the chamber and protests outside the gate. The first private members motion was tabled by the main opposition party, Sinn Féin, putting forward its own measures to assist with household bills.

Its main suggestion is to boot out this government and put Mary Lou McDonald in.

The regional group is next in line with a private members motion on Thursday. Surprise, surprise, it’s about the security of electricity supply.

The usual pre-Dáil niceties have now been dispensed with. All the political parties held parliamentary away days – or think-ins as they have been dubbed. I’m sure policy and strategy is discussed at some of them but the name of the game is to get your name up in lights before the Oireachtas kicks off.

As night follows day, it will only be a matter of days before the first no-confidence motion is tabled against a Government Minister. Given the huge price hikes in electricity and gas bills, it could be Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan who finds himself in the crosshairs of the opposition parties.

Then there’s the legislative programme. At the start of each new term, the Government Chief Whip Jack Chambers releases a list of about 40 Bills that are earmarked for publication before the session comes to an end. Getting half of them published would represent an exceptionally good performance.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Tough times are on their way for sure this winter

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Minister Eamon Ryan...proposals.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

I can’t remember where I saw the cartoon – or even when – but it made me laugh at the time, and I still relate it. It shows a man and his kid sitting on a couch looking at television. The man is telling the kid: “When I was your age, I had to get up from the couch and walk all the way to the television to change stations.”

Past hardships are a relative thing.

I come from a generation whose fathers would never tire of telling us that they walked to school barefooted (or badly shod) with a sod of turn in each hand to light the fire in the classroom.

The message was always very clear. The next generation always lives a more cosseted and privileged life than the previous one – and does not sufficiently appreciate the hardships, and sacrifices that were made.

Ireland has been relatively prosperous for a long while now and the difference (in most cases) of lifestyle between parents and children is much slimmer than it was in the past.

The biggest contrast was between those who grew up in the 1950’s or before and those who grew up from the late 1960’s onwards.

The word ‘ration’ has featured prominently in many news reports over the past week, here in Ireland and throughout Europe.

The continuing war in Ukraine is now having a very deep impact upon our economies, and by extension, on our way of life. Russia announced this week that it is cutting off the gas pipeline to western Europe until sanctions are lifted.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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