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Risks To Public Health In Private Drinking Water Supplies Not Being Tackled.

  • One in 20 private water supplies failed to meet the standard for E. coli, compared to 1 in 200 for public water supplies. 
  • Local authorities are not monitoring over a quarter of small private supplies for E. coli .
  • More than 60% of government funding available to deal with water quality failures went unused by suppliers. 

The EPA yesterday released the Drinking Water Quality in Private Group Schemes and Small Private Supplies 2021.  

Drinking water is provided by over 380 group water schemes to approximately 200,000 people across rural communities in Ireland.

Additionally, over 1,700 small private supplies (premises like hotels, pubs and restaurants, crèches, nursing homes and national schools) provide water to approximately 60,000 staff, customers and service users on a daily basis.
  
Meeting E.coli standards is a basic requirement in the provision of safe drinking water. In 2021, one in twenty private supplies were found to have E. coli contamination, indicating that the water supply has not been properly disinfected.
The failure of these disinfection systems put the health of approximately 6,000 people, that use these drinking water supplies throughout the country, at risk. 

In addition, twenty-one private group schemes (7%) failed to meet the standard for THMs, including five schemes that the European Commission has identified as being of particular concern.
Trihalomethanes (THM) are a by-product of the treatment process and are formed where there is an excess of organic matter in the water source.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Dr Tom Ryan, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said:  “Compliance with drinking water standards in private supplies for E.coli and THMs hasn’t improved in recent years. It is essential that works to improve water quality are carried out as soon as possible to eliminate serious risks to people’s health. Private water suppliers are obliged to make sure their drinking water is clean and wholesome for consumers. Local authorities must investigate supplies that fail to meet drinking water quality standards and, where necessary, follow up with enforcement action to protect public health.”
Funding is available to group water schemes and household well owners for improvements to their supplies through the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme (MARWP).

During the 2019-2021 MARWP funding cycle over 60% (€36 million) of funding available for infrastructural improvements went unused by water suppliers. 

Mr Noel Byrne, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said:  “Water quality in private supplies consistently lags behind public water quality. It is disappointing to see that €36million of funding was not used by suppliers to address infrastructural needs at problematic private supplies. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage needs to complete its review of rural drinking water services, with the purpose of providing direction and support to water suppliers and to eliminate public health risks.”

During 2021, over a quarter of small private supplies, serving food businesses, nursing homes, crèches and B&Bs were not monitored. In addition, although there are 1,700 small private supplies registered with local authorities there may be many more that are unregistered. If a supply isn’t registered and hasn’t been monitored, there is no information on the quality of the drinking water provided to consumers.

Water suppliers in conjunction with local authorities must ensure that private supplies are registered, and that monitoring is undertaken in line with the Regulations. 

This report outlines the actions that need to be taken to address the issues highlighted.
The full EPA report is available HERE

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Government Approves Publication Of Gambling Regulation Bill.

The Government has today approved the publication of the Gambling Regulation Bill.

Led by Minister of State for Law Reform, Mr James Browne TD, this Bill sets out the framework for a modern, robust regulatory and licensing regime for the gambling sector. The legislation paves the way for the establishment of a gambling regulator focused on public safety and well-being covering gambling online and in person, with the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps.

The Bill gives legislative underpinning for the new Gambling Regulatory Authority, which will be essential to its success.

Welcoming today’s Government decision, Taoiseach Mr Micheál Martin said: “This approval by Cabinet is significant and the publication of the Bill is unquestionably a major milestone. It is an important and necessary piece of legislation, designed to meet the challenges of gambling responsibly in 21st century Ireland.
This long awaited and much needed Bill takes a responsible approach to balancing the freedom to gamble with the safeguards to protect people from falling prey to addiction. This Bill provides a clearer framework for operators and for consumers.”

Speaking at the launch of the Bill today, Minister for Justice Mrs Helen McEntee said: “At the heart of the Bill is the establishment of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland, an independent body equipped to enforce regulation of the gambling sector.
The Bill will ensure that the Gambling Regulatory Authority can appropriately, meaningfully and swiftly respond to ongoing and future developments in the gambling sector. The focus on preventing harm is of vital importance. As a former Minister of Mental Health and as a local representative, I have seen the damaging impact gambling addiction can have on people and families, particularly on their mental health.”

The Bill provides for a modern and streamlined approach to gambling licensing activities which will replace the currently fragmented regime. Three types of licences for both in-person and online or remote betting will be introduced:
* Business to Consumer Gaming, Betting and Lottery Licences;
* Business to Business Licences;
* Gambling licences for Charitable/Philanthropic Causes.

Welcoming the Government’s decision today, Minister Mr James Browne TD said: “Reforming gambling legislation and regulation in Ireland is a key commitment in our Programme for Government and Justice Plan, and has been one of my key priorities as Minister. I am pleased to have gotten the draft legislation to this point, and look forward now to it being published and brought through the Houses to enactment.
This legislation will establish a Gambling Regulator which will be robust with a focus on prevention of harm to people vulnerable to problem gambling and particularly protecting children, and also a focus on enforcement of a strong, modern regulatory framework for the gambling industry.
Operators who provide gambling activities without a gambling licence issued by the Authority, or who do not operate in accordance with the provisions of their licence could, if convicted, face to up to 8 years imprisonment and/or a fine at the discretion of the courts.
Strict regulation of gambling advertising will be a priority area for the Authority. Under the legislation, advertising intended to appeal to children will be prohibited, as will advertising that promotes excessive or compulsive gambling.
A watershed prohibiting gambling advertising at certain times of day (between 5:30am and 9:00pm) will be introduced.
In this digital age, to address the particular proliferation of gambling advertising on social media, such advertising shall be prohibited by default.
The Bill also puts forward certain measures to minimise the ill-effects of gambling. The Bill will establish of a National Gambling Exclusion Register. The Bill prohibits the use of credit credits as a form of payment. The Bill will allow the Authority to prohibit the offer of inducements and promotions.
A Social Impact Fund will be created and managed by the Authority while being funded from the industry. It will be used to finance initiatives to reduce problem gambling and support awareness–raising and educational measures.”

There is a pathway mapped for the legislation progressing which will facilitate the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland being established and operational in 2023.

Noting the Government’s decision today, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Mr Roderic O’Gorman said:

“As Minister with the responsibility for Children and Youth I welcome Government’s approval to publish this new legislation which places a particular focus on prevention of harm to people vulnerable to problem gambling, children and young people.
The ever-changing but technologically advanced nature of the gambling industry means that children and teenagers are more exposed than ever to both overt and subtle gambling advertising. It is important that this is properly regulated to ensure that where gambling is advertised, it is done in a way that minimises harmful influences to young people.”

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Thurles Shopping Centre Takes Lead In Displaying Christmas Decor.

With just seven Saturdays left to Christmas Eve, 2022, Thurles Shopping Centre, have begun displaying their new Christmas decorations.

Thurles Shopping Centre, Slievenamon Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
Pic: G. Willoughby

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha-penny will do.
If you haven’t got a ha-penny, then God bless you.”

N.B. The decimal halfpenny coin, latter the smallest denomination of our Irish pound, was first issued when the Irish currency was decimalised on February 15th 1971.
It was removed from circulation and demonetised some 16 years later, on January 1st 1987.
In the same year, 2.8 million of our halfpenny coins were melted down, leaving the halfpenny Irish coin (particularly the 1985 coin) now particularly rare, and of value to coin collectors; so give the ‘old man’ one Euro and save and keep your halfpenny’s dry.

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First €200 Electricity Credit Due Tomorrow, Tuesday November 1st.

The first of three promised €200 electricity credits are expected to be made tomorrow, Tuesday, November 1st, to more than 2.2 million domestic accounts to offset rising energy costs here in the Irish Republic.
This €200 credit will be paid out automatically, and customers are not required to make any application in order to acquire same.

This money will be paid directly to all domestic electricity accounts, including both ‘bill pay’ and ‘pay-as-you-go’ customers.

The payment will appear on bills from the start of November and into December, depending on each household’s electricity supplier and their particular billing cycle.

The second and third €200 payments will be made to cover the January/February and March/April billing periods.

The total package of €600 in energy credits will equate to around 25% of the estimated annual bill for consumed electricity for the vast majority of typical domestic households.

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Changes To Payment Date For Social Welfare Recipients Ahead Of Halloween.

Recipients of some Social Welfare payments will see changes to the date of when they receive their payments for the upcoming October Bank Holiday weekend.

Since the Halloween bank holiday falls on Monday October 31st this year (2022), it should be noted that Banks and Post Offices across the Irish State will remain closed from Sunday, October 30th and will not re-open again until Tuesday morning, November 1st next.

With this in mind, those who are listed to benefit, will now see their Social Welfare payments paid earlier as a result, due to this holiday season.

Any payments that are due to be paid into accounts on October 31st, will now be paid earlier on Friday, October 28th instead.

All Payments will be paid as normal, as of Tuesday, November 1st next.

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