Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an Aire Stáit go dtí an Teach. Tá dóchas agam go mbeidh dea-scéal aige le hinsint dúinn anocht.
I thank the Cathaoirleach for facilitating me by placing this motion on the Adjournment. I thank the Minister of State for attending and welcome him to the House.
I raise the need for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to give special consideration to the urgent provision of a sewerage scheme in Rathowen, County Westmeath under the water services investment programme to complement the further development of the village. I have a more than passing interest in Rathowen and I spent the first 14 months of married life there. I know the area and people well; they are very caring and formed a development association, through their own initiative, that was responsible, with the local authority, for social housing for the elderly and the not so elderly.
I was pleased to act as facilitator when they wanted to launch their report some years ago. The then EU Commissioner saw fit to visit Rathowen community centre to launch the report. This is a clear indication of the regard the powers that be have for the people of Rathowen and their community spirit. The community centre there is second to none and they have another community hall that is used extensively. Some time ago a well-established premises was converted into a hotel.
The text of this matter refers to complementing the further development of the village. I can say with conviction and certainty that the further development of Rathowen village is being hampered by the lack of a sewerage scheme. Some months ago, when the Minister of State, Deputy Tony Killeen, was passing through County Westmeath he met a number of people, including myself, regarding this scheme. It was considered under the serviced land initiative but the cost per household is prohibitive. I ask that the Minister of State and the Department put one hand on heart and the other deep into a pocket to produce the funding required.
There has been much development in Rathowen. Some years ago a businessman bought an old established licensed premises and developed it into a fine hotel and restaurant. This is but one development that is waiting to progress further. There are other developments that would be complemented by a sewerage scheme. Rathowen is a village with a good sense of community, which has been proved in many ways. I invite the Minister of State, when passing Rathowen, to drop in and see the community centre, the local authority schemes and the private schemes provided by the people of the area.
I will not go into more detail but ask the Minister of State to consider favourably the text of the matter before him this evening. I initiated this process in February 2000 when, as a member of Westmeath County Council, I placed a motion on the council's agenda seeking a sewerage scheme. That is over eight years ago and I like to think that in the life of the current county council the imprimatur will be given to the local authority, through appropriate funding from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, to facilitate the provision of this sewerage scheme.