Seanad Éireann - Volume 145 - 15 November, 1995
Adjournment Matters. - Castlebar Swimming Pool.
Mr. Burke Mr. Burke
Mr. Burke: I welcome the Minister, Deputy Barrett, to the House. I do not know whether it is a good omen that he is just stepping in for the Minister for the Environment. I hoped that the Minister for the Environment would be here because he is travelling to Mayo tomorrow and I thought he might have some good news for me. However, perhaps he is keeping the best wine until last and he may have some very good news for us tomorrow.
This motion relates to the provision of funding for a swimming pool and upgrading of facilities in Castlebar. Castlebar is an expanding county town. The existing swimming pool is inadequate  to cater for the needs of the people of Castlebar and the surrounding hinterland. As a county town, it embraces a large hinterland which depends greatly on Castlebar for leisure activities. The swimming pool is in great use throughout the year by people from a vast area around the town.
The facilities are in poor condition at the moment and substantial sums of money are needed to upgrade them. I understand that Mayo County Council has submitted plans to the Department of the Environment which would cost in the region of £1.3 million. I hope the Minister will be in a position to secure that funding for Castlebar in the 1996 Estimates or, if the total funding is not available for 1996, that some money could be allocated to upgrade the facilities. The county council are at a crossroads. They cannot upgrade the existing facilities because the machinery is outdated and there is no point in buying new machinery and putting it into an old facility. On the other hand they are waiting for funding for a new facility.
I ask the Minister to urge his colleague, the Minister for the Environment, to make the necessary funding available for this worthy project in Castlebar which would give the people of Castlebar and central Mayo a much needed facility and aid them in tourism and other activities.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Barrett) Minister for the Marine (Mr. Barrett)
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Barrett): I apologise on behalf of the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Howlin, for his inability to attend. Unfortunately, he had a prior engagement so I agreed to step in for him.
I thank Senator Burke for the opportunity to set out the position in relation to the proposed upgrading of Castlebar swimming pool. Mayo County Council submitted preliminary proposals to the Department of the Environment in November 1994 for major refurbishment works, estimated to cost £1.3 million, at the Castlebar pool. The works involved included major repairs to the general fabric of the pool building, replacement of the mechanical, heating and electrical services and upgrading of the water filtration and  disinfection systems. It was also proposed to provide a number of new facilities, including a learners' pool, sauna and multipurpose room.
The Department wrote to Mayo County Council last April conveying approval of the council's preliminary proposals and advising them that they could proceed with the preparation of detailed drawings and specifications — in other words, the contract documents. The submission of these documents is awaited by the Department of the Environment. When the documents are received and approved and tenders have been received, the financial issues can be considered. Grants are not formally allocated to particular projects until that stage is reached.
There is a provision of £2 million in the Department's Estimates for 1995 for the swimming pool programme. The provision is fully earmarked for projects already under construction or fully approved and there are also heavy commitments building up for 1996. In the circumstances it is not possible to say when a firm financial commitment can be given towards the funding of the proposed works at the Castlebar pool. However, as I have already explained, financial issues are not the critical ones just yet.
Mayo County Council should now finalise the preparation of contract documents and submit them to the Department of the Environment for approval. This would mean that the Castlebar pool project would be fully planned and ready to go to the tender stage when funding becomes available.
Mr. Burke Mr. Burke
Mr. Burke: I assure the Minister that I will bring this to the attention of the county manager immediately. I thank the Minister.
Seanad Éireann 145 Adjournment Matters. Castlebar Swimming Pool.