The Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, is welcome to the House to deal with this important matter of sewerage schemes in critical villages in County Clare. There are four in particular, namely, Broadford, Cooraclare, Doolin and Carrigaholt. As the Minister of State knows from his many visits to County Clare, it is a big tourism county, which has hundreds of thousands of people coming to visit during peak times of the tourist season.
Doolin has been waiting for decades for an upgraded sewerage system. Hundreds of thousands of people use Doolin to connect to the Aran Islands every year. Many people in Doolin wish to provide infrastructure for the tourism sector. There are people who wish to build accommodation, guest houses, small hotels, boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts. People in the area have been waiting to have the streetscape in Doolin upgraded, with proper public lighting, proper footpaths, improved roadways and so on. The problem is all of this development is deemed to be premature because the existing sewerage system cannot cope with the level of development in place at the moment, not to talk about increased capacity. Doolin has provided the taxpayer and the tourism industry in this country with a unique product and the State has not stepped up to the plate in providing the vital sewerage schemes. Similarly, Carrigaholt is another part of County Clare that has benefited the area, the county and the country with its tourism offering. It also is an area in which many people wish to invest. There would be significant capital investment in the tourism area, were the sewerage scheme up to standard. However, it is not and investment is needed. Cooraclare is just off the Wild Atlantic Way. The village has waited for decades and been promised by umpteen Governments that it will have its upgraded sewerage system in place. It still has not happened. Regarding Broadford in east Clare, there are a number of investors waiting and willing to invest in the village, to improve it, invest in its infrastructure, provide accommodation and small industry and so on. Again, it is all deemed to be premature because the sewerage system that is there is not fit for purpose.
I understand these are considered small schemes in the overall context. The problem is that there is no home to accommodate them. I will suggest what the Minister of State and the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, should do. The Oireachtas Members in Clare had a constructive meeting with the Minister in the Custom House yesterday evening. We explained that a pot of money has to be made available in the Department for small schemes and the local authorities need to prioritise a scheme each, perhaps, because this is not just prevalent in County Clare. I am sure it is an issue in other counties as well. A pot of €30 million or €40 million should be made available by the Department over a five-year period that the local authorities could apply to in order to deal with the legacy sewerage schemes that have to be upgraded. They are not big enough for Irish Water and they are too big to be done at a very localised budgeting level. Therefore, they are in between.
I suggest County Clare and the four schemes I have proposed should be a pilot to see how such a scheme would work nationally. I encourage the Minister of State and the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, to roll this out at national level then because I have no doubt the pilot would be successful.