Ministers urged to alter sewage plans


ABOUT 500 people paraded, through Galway city at the weekend protesting against plans to locate a sewage treatment plant on Mutton Island opposite the Claddagh in Galway Bay.

At a rally in Eyre Square calls were made on both the Minister for the Environment, Mr Howlin, and the Minister for Arts and Culture, Mr Higgins, a Galway resident, to abandon the island plan and switch to a mainland site.

Mr Michael Flaherty, chairman of the Save Galway Bay (SGB) group, which organised the protest, said Mr Howlin had ignored the wishes of 72 per cent of Galway people who, in the only opinion poll on the issue, were shown to oppose the Mutton Island location. He accused the 12 members of Galway's 15 member city council who voted in favour of the site of trying to save face by not admitting they were wrong.

Last month, Mr Howlin announced that the Exchequer would provide the estimated £23 million to build the plant on Mutton Island even if the EU cohesion fund did not grant 80 per cent of the cost. Last Friday, in a sharply worded letter to Mr Howlin, the EU Regional Affairs Commissioner, Ms Monika Wulf Mathies, said the EU would provide no money for the Mutton Island project. Mr Howlin said this would not deter him from financing it out of the Exchequer.

Earlier, Ms Wulf Mathies had said all the Commission's advice Was against the Mutton Island location and pointed out that the mainland based alternative near the docks would pose less of an environmental threat.

Ms Margaret Cox, one of three city councillors who voted against the Mutton Island location, said" Mr Howlin had made the wrong decision and must be persuaded to change his mind.

Another councillor who voted against the site, Mr Tom Costello, said overcrowded University College Hospital Galway was crying out for £23 million, the sum Mr Howlin proposed to spend on Mutton Island.

Dr Emer Colleran, of An Taisce, told the rally that Ms Wulf Mathies was right to draw attention to the harmful effects of having a sewage treatment plant on Mutton Island.