I thank the Chair for giving me the opportunity of raising this matter on the Adjournment and thank the Minister of State Deputy Liz McManus, for her attendance.
The Virginia sewerage scheme was included in the river Boyne catchment protection scheme application for funding submitted to the European Commission in December 1994 under the Cohesion Fund. The Minister for the Environment, Deputy Howlin, in reply to my parliamentary question on this subject on 27 April 1995 stated that he expected a reply from the Commission on that Cohesion Fund application by late May or early June 1995. In exchanges during that Question Time the Minister accepted that the present sewerage system in Virginia is totally inadequate.
I repeat that there is an urgent need to provide a new sewerage scheme in Virginia. The present scheme which is totally inadequate was provided in 1935 and planned to cater for a population of about 300. The same scheme now serves a catchment area with a population of 1,500. When installed in the 1930s there were 110 connections to this scheme. I understand there are now upwards of 300 connections, including one to a vocational school with 400 students, hotels and industries. Further developments are proposed for Virginia, including additional tourist accommodation, a large number of private houses and a nursing unit with a 30-bed complement. Virginia is a growing town, and this will continue owing to its easy access to Dublin and the expected regeneration of the Border economy.
I appealed previously to the Minister to try to have construction work on this scheme commenced before the end of 1995. That target cannot now be achieved. In view of the total inadequacy of the present scheme and the fact that the present system poses a serious danger to the quality of the renowned waterway of Lough Ramor, I appeal to the Minister of State, Deputy McManus to try to have work commenced on this scheme at the earliest possible date. Proper sanitary services are urgently needed in Virginia. I hope the Minister of State will be able to inform me that this scheme will progress rapidly and that a positive and successful outcome to the application will be forthcoming without further delay.
Finally, I appeal to the Minister to do everything in her power to ensure that construction of this much needed scheme commences during 1996.