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Dublin: 22 °C Tuesday 16 July, 2019
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Government strikes down bid to halt septic tank bill

Opposition TDs wanted to delay the Water Services Amendment Bill until expert advice had been received, but were frustrated.

Image: eutrophication&hypoxia via Flickr

THE GOVERNMENT PARTIES have struck down opposition attempts to block the passage of the controversial bill requiring mandatory inspections of septic tanks.

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and independent TDs had tried to delay the bill passing committee stage today, demanding that consideration of the Water Services (Amendment) Bill be delayed until the Environment committee had received input from expert bodies like the EPA and An Taisce.

A motion to that effect, tabled by Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins, was thrown out by the committee chairman Noel Coonan – who said it was superseded by a Dáil decision last week.

The Dáil had voted last Thursday to give the Environment committee seven days to wrap up its consideration of the bill, and Coonan said that decision would overrule any decision by the committee to delay its discussions.

Collins had accused Ruairí Quinn of misleading the Dáil last week when it said Ireland would face fines from February 3 unless the legislation was in place by that time.

“He didn’t do it knowingly, but it was still the wrong information,” Collins said.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said the government’s treatment of the bill had become “a total charade”, calling the proposals “a discriminatory piece of legislation against rural dwellers”.

Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív had proposed that today’s committee meeting – which will run all day until 9pm – be paused so that the thoughts of expert groups could be considered this afternoon, before the deadline imposed by the Dáil. That proposal was also dismissed by Coonan.

Angry words were exchanged at the beginning of the morning’s discussion when environment minister Phil Hogan repeated his assertion that Ireland would face fines from next month if the legislation had not been passed before then – and accused Ó Cuív of wrongly stating otherwise.

“The minister cannot go around with impunity,” Ó Cuív responded, asking that the remark be withdrawn.

The committee meetings, which will continue all today, can be watched online.

State won’t face septic tank fines in February despite government claims

Septic tank row continues as Fianna Fáil calls for expert advice

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Gavan Reilly

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