THERE are gaping holes in Irish Water’s knowledge of the Banner County’s geography, Shannon Municipal District councillors have claimed and they’re not short of anecdotes to back up their point of view.
According to Councillor Cathal Crowe when he contacted Irish Water’s central line with a query about an issue in Meelick, he was told that a leak had been identified in faraway Kilkee and “that was probably the cause”.
According to AA routeplanner, Meelick is 56 miles from Kilkee. That’s 11 miles more than the distance to Mallow, County Cork.
At their July meeting, Councillor PJ Ryan said when he contacted Irish Water, he was told they couldn’t find the M18, the motorway that runs through the heart of Clare, on a map. He also said that they had misspelled Cratloe as Cratlow and Setrights Cross had been Fetrights Cross.
The claims were made as the members discussed a letter sent by Clodagh Florish of Irish Water, in which she ruled out representatives attending a Shannon Municipal District meeting.
The letter was slammed by some of the members, with Councillor Gerry Flynn claiming it contained “untruths”.
The letter stated, “I refer to your recent correspondence requesting a representative from Irish Water to attend a meeting of the Shannon Municipal District of Clare County Council. You will recollect that Irish Water’s policy in this regard was set out in a letter to local authority CEOs on July 25, 2014. Since then, the eight regional events, as proposed, were held. Following the regional meetings, the policy for engagement with councillors was further expanded in November.
“In addition, Irish Water has facilitated monthly clinics for every local authority and also provides regular updates to local authority members via our Local Rep Support Desk. In relation to Clare County Council, we have held seven clinics to date for the elected members to address any query they may have.”
The letter claimed that since May, “we have contacted each of the six elected representatives of Shannon Municipal District and discussed our proposals with them individually”.
Councillor Flynn was critical of the letter. “I hate saying it and I won’t say the big word but there are untruths,” he claimed.
“I never met with them and I refused to meet them behind closed doors,” he stated, adding that the utility was engaging in “propaganda”.
Councillor Crowe also contradicted the letter, saying that some of the councillors, himself included, had not been in discussions with Irish Water. He claimed that it would be wrong to attend the workshops referred to, when Irish Water were refusing to attend plenary county meetings.
The Fianna Fáil representative slammed Irish Water’s attitude to public representatives in the county, claiming that when the politicians want to discuss something, the utility company “runs for the hills”.
He qualified his criticisms, saying, “Our squabble is with the top brass of Irish Water, the local staff here are top class”.
Since being asked if a leak in Kilkee could be affecting Meelick, he said he has stopped calling the Irish Water central line, going straight to local workers.
Councillor PJ Ryan also gave illustrations of gaps in Irish Water’s understanding of Clare geography but he lauded the work done by staff in the county, saying they work “at all hours of the evening and the night to look after things”.
By Owen Ryan