I thank the Cathaoirleach for allowing me to raise this issue and selecting it for debate.
We are again looking at a monumental waste of public funds on this project and I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Parlon, who has had his hands on this project. He participated in some of the launches we had with regard to it.
Since the serious flooding in south Galway in 1975, a series of reports, studies, assessments, designs and work has been carried out, at a cost of approximately €3 million. The famous Peach report, which was commissioned at the time, was to have been the answer to all the drainage problems in south Galway but is now an academic study. Dúchas and local authorities were involved in trying to find a resolution to the problem as well as many other agencies. However, at all times when I was a Member of this House and the Lower House, I doubted the sincerity of the commitment of Ministers to the project.
The Minister for Finance allocated funding to it in the budget and I thought we then had a statutory allocation. Alas, the project has come to a standstill without any of the fanfare with which the Minister of State participated in in his glory days. The Minister of State at the time, Deputy Treacy, launched the project on five occasions and, for political advantage in the run up to elections, stated that it was proceeding. This seems to be the case elsewhere too.
We have had no benefit from this project despite the fact that €3 million has been allocated to studying it and €3 million has been allocated for the implementation of works. We had identified Termon, Cregaclare, Peterswell and Ballinderry as the areas which would benefit. The Minister of State showed and named the townlands and farms that were to benefit in the local newspaper, all of which were written to individually and told the way in which they were to benefit from these works. Now that has all gone.
Will the Minister of State clearly indicate what has happened and what went wrong? I understand the reasons and sympathise with the concerns of farmers in the Craughwell area who were the victims of the movement of water from an upper area downwards. However, further works to alleviate the problem of water moving from A to B could probably be undertaken if there was determination. Surely, a reason could have been found to start from the sea upwards in order to alleviate any problems that would arise in the land which falls in the middle in the Craughwell area. These are serious concerns with which I sympathise.
However, it is wrong for local government politicians to say in Craughwell that they had the money for the project taken back and, if they are in Termon or Ballinderry to say the Minister was an awful man to give the money back to the Government rather than spend it to the benefit of people in that area. Cost-benefit analyses have been carried out in various places, which have shown it would have been of benefit to the area.
Can the Minister of State clearly state, without the equivocation of which he is so fond, why this project has been abandoned, where the money has gone and how much public funding has been wasted to date?