asked the Minister for Lands the reason for the delay in supplying water to persons (name supplied) who got land on the Walsh estate, Moatfarrell, County Longford, and who were promised water by the Land Commission.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Longford Estate Water Supply.
I would refer the Deputy to the reply to his previous question on 9th February, 1967 about this matter. The operation of the group water supply scheme referred to in that reply, which would have benefited the allottees on the Walsh estate, did not proceed in the manner anticipated. In view of the delays and uncertainties associated with this scheme, the Land Commission decided, over a year ago, to provide a water supply on the estate. Two wells were bored on the lands but the yield was found to be disappointing and the advisability of sinking further wells so as to ensure an adequate supply of water is now under active consideration.
Is the Minister aware that this land was divided over five years ago? Would he not agree it is scandalous treatment that people with wives and families who have had sculleries and toilets erected there have had to wait for over five years to get water? Surely the Minister realises that we are not living in the Congo? Is the Minister aware that those small farmers who got this land earn their living through dairying and they have now been informed that, unless they have a proper water supply, milk will not be accepted from them?
The position in relation to those farms is that originally, as the Deputy is aware, it was intended to bore wells to supply water to the people concerned. At that time the Department of Local Government and Longford County Council had decided on a group water scheme. It was felt that the people concerned would get a much better supply from the group water scheme and the wells were not proceeded with. This group scheme, for one reason or another, did not materialise and it was decided by Longford County Council that they would have three smaller group schemes. One of these would serve the needs of these people. However, because of the slowness in proceeding with the scheme the Land Commission decided to go ahead with the boring of the wells. However, they found that the supply of water available from these wells was very disappointing and in fact would not be sufficient. The prospects of getting water in the area are poor. Nevertheless, consideration is being given to the matter as to whether or not they should go ahead with the boring of further wells. What I would hope would be that the Longford County Council would push ahead with this particular small group water scheme so as to ensure that a supply would be available to the people.
Is the Minister aware that Longford County Council informed those people and those people told the Minister's Department in January, 1966, that they would not be included in this particular group scheme? Is the Minister further aware that in the question he mentioned of 9th February, 1967, I informed the Minister for Lands of this and, of course, he told me that I was incorrect, that he had different information. Surely those people should not have to wait so long? They have waited, in all, almost six years. It is three years and four months since the Department of Lands were informed that they would not be included in the group water scheme. Surely they should have sunk pumps for those people inside that time?
As I have explained to the Deputy, two wells have already been bored, both of them showing very disappointing results. The Land Commission are doing their best in relation to this but I do not see any reason why those people should not be included in one of the smaller group water schemes which, I believe, has been envisaged by the Longford County Council. I would suggest that the best means of supplying those people with water is to have this particular scheme pushed ahead and for the council to see to it that these people are included in that scheme.
If the Land Commission inspectors could not find suitable water there, I suppose Longford County Council engineers could not find a suitable supply either for these people, who are on very high ground. That must be the reason. However, the Minister should be aware that the Land Commission were informed in January, 1966, that they would not be included in the group water supply scheme.
Is the Minister aware——
Rip Van Winkle. The Deputy did nothing about it for five years.
——that there was in fact a group scheme proposed there but that, at the outset, the area was so large that it had to be broken into three parts and that the first part of it is being taken at the moment? Is the Minister further aware that water is supposed to be very scarce at the upper end of this area and that it is very difficult to get it at any level?
There is no scarcity of water anywhere.