Concern about the mainly commercial pollution of the River Barrow and the knock-on effect on fishing stocks on the river was expressed in the Dáil by Sinn Féin Deputy Kathleen Funchion.
She said she was raising the issue on behalf of the Barrow River Piscatorial Society which is very active in the community.
“It has continuously raised the issue with Inland Fisheries Ireland, IFI, which seems to be passing the buck or not taking the matter seriously,” she said.
“When the society came to me, I endeavoured to organise a meeting for it with Inland Fisheries Ireland and there was correspondence back and forth. Unfortunately, Inland Fisheries Ireland has not committed to a meeting.
"The society has the right to request a meeting and I do not see the problem with granting such request. We raise the issue to ask the Minister to ensure that the chief executive of Inland Fisheries Ireland, Ciaran Byrne, meets with the Barrow River Piscatorial Society so that it can raise its concerns.”
It believes it is being treated as a second-class citizen because groups with an interest in other rivers have been granted meetings with Inland Fisheries Ireland, she added.
In response, the Minister for Communications, Climate Acton and Environment, Denis Naughten said the problem is that there is a multifaceted approach to issues such as this and responsibility does not lie with any one agency, which is hugely frustrating.
“As the Deputies are aware, the provisions of the water pollution Acts come under the remit of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy,” he said. “I will commit to taking the points raised by the Deputies back to the Minister of State, Deputy Kyne. I will discuss this issue with him and we can try to see if we can progress it.”
Government has role in remedying defective houses
The distressing and stressful circumstances the owners and residents of buildings must face where building defects emerge was acknowledged in the Seanad by Minister of State John Paul Phelan.
However, he said in general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, the homeowner, the builder, the developer and-or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme.
“It is important to note that while the Department has overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an effective regulatory framework for building standards and building control, it has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings, nor does it have a budget for such matters,” he told senators.
“In this regard, it is incumbent on the parties responsible for poor workmanship and-or the supply of defective materials to face up to their responsibilities and take appropriate action to provide remedies for the affected homeowners.”
The issue of legal redress for homeowners in respect of property transactions is a complex matter, with potential implications for the entire legal system as well as for the insurance industry, he said.
In this context, in February 2018, the Department wrote to the Law Reform Commission and also corresponded with those involved in the review of the administration of civil justice in Ireland requesting that they consider the issue of effective and accessible legal remedies for homeowners who discover defects in their homes.
Aylward calls for resolution to CE pension issue
The deep sense of frustration felt by community employment supervisors and assistant supervisors in trying to secure an occupational pension was expressed in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil Deputy Bobby Aylward.
Speaking during a debate on a Fianna Fáil motion, he said the Community Employment schemes were introduced in this country at a time when unemployment levels were very high, particularly in rural Ireland.
“By all accounts, the initiative has been very successful and has served its participants very well in securing employment when jobs were scarce and in helping the long-term unemployed to find a pathway back to work,” he said.
“We cannot underestimate the effect secure employment can have on a person, from both a financial and mental health point of view. I have spoken to people who were long-term unemployed for years and could see no light at the end of the tunnel, and it was the CE scheme that got them going again, giving them a jump start and leading them back to full-time and long-term employment.”
CE schemes would never have succeeded without the work of the supervisors and assistant supervisors, he said. They have a strong personal vocation for the work they do and they are passionate about helping the people of their communities.
“Our motion calls for a satisfactory pathway to be found, based on the 2008 Labour Court recommendations, to address the pension issue for the 1,250 CE supervisors and assistant supervisors,” he said.
"These supervisors are honest, hard-working people and they need the Government to do the right thing and set out a pathway to provide them with the pensions they are owed.”
Aylward seeks increased use of CCTV to tackle criminal gangs
An update on the Programme for Government that CCTV cameras would be erected at all motorway junctions, was sought in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil Deputy Bobby Aylward.
Speaking during Question Time, he said gangs are travelling from the main cities to rural Ireland via motorways in order to rob people and are on the motorway again within ten, 20 or 30 minutes.
“The only way to stop them is via the use of CCTV cameras,” he said. “When will they be erected? What will the cost be and will it be done before the next general election. Community policing is also important. I keep emphasising that every Garda station should have a community liaison officer. As people trust community liaison officers, the more we have, the better.”
In response, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he was anxious to ensure all interested groups in urban and rural areas will take advantage of the grants scheme available in his Department.
“Last year I announced an annual sum of €1 million for three years which would be ring-fenced for community CCTV system grants,” he said.
“The number of applications to date is lower than I wished for.”
He said he was asking all Deputies, including Deputy Aylward, to spread the word that these grants are available. Support and guidance is also available to help interested groups apply for the funding.
“I strongly encourage interested groups to contact my Department for assistance,” he said. “We have set up a dedicated email address for this purpose, which is firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Bearing in mind that all applications approved to date have been from local authorities, any local authorities that have not yet applied may also find it useful to consider consulting their counterparts in other areas. I am not sure if I have an application from Kilkenny but I have an application approved for the adjoining county of Wexford.
"I am anxious to ensure - I see three rural Deputies in the House - that we provide the appropriate level of information to community groups to allow them to make the application. Grant aid and assistance in my Department will be up to €40,000 per application.”
Deputy Aylward said he was talking about is not the community CCTV in villages. “I am talking about CCTV coming off motorways which should be sponsored by TII and the Government,” he added.
US paper with links to Kilkenny wins Pulitzer Prize
The winning of the Pulitzer Prize by a US company with ancestral links to Kilkenny was noted in the Seanad.
Kerry Senator Mark Daly asked his fellow senators to support a Fianna Fáil motion in respect of the Pulitzer Prize which was won by a small newspaper, The Storm Lake Times in rural Iowa.
“That newspaper has only a circulation of 3,000 and a catchment population of 10,000,” he said.
“Its editor won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 2017. The family running this business are the Cullens, originally from Kilkenny, five generations back.”
This issue is the acknowledgement of their great achievement of winning the Pulitzer Prize, he said. “The Iowa state Senate refused to acknowledge them winning the prize because they had been critical of President Trump,” he said.
“The most important thing in any democracy is a free press. When it achieves greatly as this small newspaper has done, winning the most prestigious prize in journalism, I think it would be fitting and appropriate that its own state Senate would acknowledge that.
"In light of the fact that the Senate has not done so, it would be appropriate for the land of the ancestors of the Cullen family to acknowledge their great achievement. I ask the Leader to support that motion.”