Hundreds of people from around the county have attended meetings in recent days voicing their opposition to planned legislation on septic tanks.
If passed the legislation will see owners of septic tanks face a registration fee and opponents say home owners will have to out extensive work to meet the standards.
Over three hundred people attended a meeting in Donegal on Monday night while over 1000 people from the Finn Valley attended a meeting in Glenfinn at the same time. Another meeting had been held in Donegal town over the weekend. People attending all three meetings said they would refuse to pay the charge. Both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil have drawn up amendments to the legislation.
Local politicians attending the meetings, including those from the government parties, have criticised the new regulations. They said the rural people of Ireland would face large costs under the regulations while urban dwellers get their sewage systems subsidised by the tax payer. It was claimed that not one of the 30,000 septic tanks in the country would pass the regulations.
Speaking at the Glenfinn meeting on Monday night Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said that while it was agreed that some sort of legislation is needed on the issue but the government proposals will cost people in rural areas thousands.
He pointed out that inspectors will have the power to bring prosecutions against those who don’t comply and people found guilty will face fines of up to €5,000. He said the people need to stand together and say no.
Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill said he would not be paying the registration fee himself. The legislation would be the ruination of rural Ireland, he said.
Fine Gael county councillor Martin Harley said he was opposed to the legislation which would result in over regularisation.
Sinn Féin’s councillor Cora Harvey said she was delighted to see such a turn out at the meeting. The regulations would destroy the people of rural Ireland who would need to come together and fight it, she said.
Labour party councillor Frank McBrearty Jnr urged the government to introduce a grant to help people upgrade sceptic tanks. He said people should pay the charges as otherwise they will end up in court but an investment of €17,000 could be needed to upgrade each tank.
Cllr. Paul Canning said a large amount of land would be required for percolation alone.
One of the meeting organisers, Sharon Morrow, said the rural people of Donegal are now paying the price for mistakes of the past. She urged people affected by the issue to go to their politicians. “Lobby them and tell them that people in rural Ireland will not accept this.”