asked the Minister for Local Government if he will arrange to have the officer in charge of group water schemes in attendance at meetings of the western committee of Cork County Council.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Cork Water Schemes.
As indicated in the reply to question No. 31 on 17th February, 1970, requests by local authorities for the attendance of inspectors of my Department to discuss group water supply schemes at meetings of the authorities have had to be refused because of the need to concentrate all available staff time on the heavy volume of work awaiting attention.
Is the Minister aware that this order was only made a short time ago and that the local authority there—the western committee of the Cork County Council—are deprived of their privilege of speaking to and discussing water schemes with this officer? Would he consider giving this officer permission to attend the meeting of the western committee of the county council? I would ask him to reconsider it. I consider it very dictatorial to deprive members of a local authority the opportunity of hearing from their group water scheme officer in the area or discussing with him the group water schemes in the area.
Far from depriving public representatives or members of the public from consulting with officers of my Department in relation to group water schemes the position is that the inspector attends at the Department's offices in Cork city every Monday morning. The inspectors are available there for discussion either personally or on the telephone. I should like to make it quite clear to the Deputy that I am very keen to accelerate progress on group water schemes throughout the country. I would like to see more group schemes started. At the same time I could not possibly approve of the attendance at county council meetings of officers of my Department principally for the reason that they have enough work on their hands. There are other good reasons too. Already Cork County Council have a liaison officer for the west Cork area and my inspectors will report on the progress of group schemes through the liaison officer. It is up to the liaison officer to report to the council members at council meetings if they so wish.
Is the Minister aware that there has been a complete standstill in as far as group water schemes are concerned not alone in the western area but in every area of Cork and that this officer whom the Minister says is so busy is, in our opinion, doing nothing?
That would be a separate question.
Far be it from me to cast any such aspersion on the work of any public official. I am surprised at the Deputy. He has raised matters now which are not included in the question at all.