Sunday 10 January 2010

Gormley to reject remarks on incinerator

MINISTER FOR the Environment John Gormley will express his “dismay” at a Cabinet meeting next week over remarks by Dublin city manager John Tierney on the controversial Poolbeg incinerator project.

Mr Tierney last week said the Minister “must be aware” that Dublin City Council had a statutory obligation to go ahead with the incinerator and that interference with the project could leave the State with a multimillion-euro compensation bill.

The incinerator site is in Mr Gormley’s own constituency of Dublin South East. As an opposition TD, he made a submission to An Bord Pleanála against the application for permission to build the facility. However, on becoming Minister, he was legally precluded from interfering in a statutory process that had already begun.

The Cabinet is holding an all- day meeting in Dublin on Wednesday.

The Dáil is not due back until January 19th and Ministers will use the extra time to discuss issues of general policy in such areas as the environment, local government, energy, and social welfare.

Green Party sources told The Irish Times last night that Mr Gormley would “express dismay at Cabinet about comments by the Dublin city manager on waste policy”.

Mr Gormley is expected to draw attention to the High Court ruling of December 21st which says that when a private company collects waste, it owns that material and can determine where the waste is to be deposited.

Mr Justice Liam McKechnie also said the planned Poolbeg incinerator was “not free from uncertainty”.

Mr Gormley said at the time that in light of the decision, the council would be digging itself into “deeper trouble” by going ahead with building the 600,000-tonne incinerator.

On the issue of local government reform, the Minister will stress the need for “strong content” on the powers of regional government and the importance of ensuring that “proper funding” is put in place.

Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin will lead a discussion on social welfare policy, including the principle as to whether the lone-parent allowance should be phased out when a child turns 13.

However, Government sources were keen to emphasise there was no question of a decision being made at the meeting on this issue, and that the discussion would be confined to general policy approaches.

Ms Hanafin said last month that the Government’s policy on the one-parent family payment was not working.

She had told Cabinet colleagues the issue should be discussed formally by Government and the systems in other countries examined.

“The idea of continuing to pay somebody until their child is 22 if they’re in full-time education, it just [militates] against that lone parent herself having a stable relationship or marrying or even taking a full-time job, because of the attachment to ‘the book’,” she said.

Ms Hanafin said last month that Britain was in the process of ceasing the benefit when children reached the age of seven, but she thought that was too young and would put too much pressure on both children and parents.

Irish Times

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