Cllr. Elaine McGinty and Deputy Ged Nash with copies of the River Boyne Task Force Bill yesterday.
An historic bill aimed at protecting the future of the Boyne River which Labour Deputy Ged Nash said would not only ensure a bright future for the Boyne but serve as an example as to how to manage our precious water courses, across the country, reached its first stage in the Dáil yesterday.
The legislation is the brainchild of Cllr. Elaine McGinty who was in the Dáil gallery to witness Deputy Nash present the bill to establish a task force for the ongoing management, enhancement and protection of the Boyne.
The Taskforce will co-ordinate the efforts of four separate councils, regulators, government, Irish Water, local landowners, NGOs and community activists, for the benefit of this vital local waterway.
Cllr McGinty explained the genesis of the bill : “For more than a year, I have worked with inspirational campaigners from all walks of life in groups like Save the Boyne and others to identify how we can improve the water quality and biodiversity of the river. I have listened carefully to those who live, work and depend on this river every day.
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“We have all seen the deterioration in the water quality of the Boyne and the EPA is not mincing its words when it says that the quality of the water in the Boyne and our rivers nationally is not good enough. We have to take action and fast.
“All of the wastewater treatment plants that operate along the Boyne must be reviewed and upgraded at a minimum. We need to look at the new reality of what exactly this river can handle so that we do not destroy it.”
Deputy Nash said of the bill: “For too long we have turned our back on the River Boyne. Since Drogheda’s foundation, the river was the very lifeblood of our community and we need to value it and protect it properly.
“Neither have we treated our river and the flora and fauna that depends on a healthy waterway, with the respect it deserves. Pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change are the prices we are paying for years of neglect.”
Deputy Nash said: “This Bill, if enacted will provide for one key statutory voice and power for the Boyne. It will establish a Task Force with legal status which will involve all local authorities in the catchment area, experts and local interests to help determine the future of our river from an environmental, social, economic and cultural perspective.
“I was honoured to take the bill to First Stage in the Dail, this week and Cllr. McGinty and I with our Labour colleagues will continue a process of engagement on the Bill with local groups and activists who care about our river.”
Rising in Co Kildare, The Boyne River flows through the counties of Offaly, Meath and Louth. It is arguably the most historically significant river in the country as it winds its way through the landscape of Irish history and pre-history, daring back as far as the first settlers in Ireland.