Councillors are not happy with latest ‘waffle’ from Irish Water

March 6th, 2020 7:05 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Rathbarry national school pupils Amy Harrington and Ailill Cronin were delighted to be invited to Cork County Council’s chamber before Christmas, but Irish Water is refusing the Council’s invitation to a committee meeting. (Photo: Clare Keogh)

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Irish Water is refusing to attend meetings of Cork County Council’s development committee, despite repeated requests by councillors for better access to information, writes Jackie Keogh

IRISH Water has insisted it does not have the resources to attend two of the Council’s development committee meetings every year.

At a previous local authority meeting, it was agreed that the county engineer would write to Irish Water to request their attendance at the meetings.

A number of the councillors made that request because they felt the quarterly ‘councillor clinics’ at County Hall were more like talking shops and did not impress upon Irish Water the urgency of some projects.

The councillors believed that inviting Irish Water to the development committee meetings, twice a year, would be constructive to all concerned.

Councillors have repeatedly cited the twin villages of Ballineen and Enniskeane as an example of where an inadequate waste water system is hampering housing development.

Cllr Paul Hayes had – at a pre-Christmas meeting – been particularly vocal about his frustration in trying to get relevant information from Irish Water.

He said the councillor clinics were not working because the Irish Water representatives would simply refer the matter back to HQ.

It was suggested that a meeting with people in authority, twice a year, would help clarify what is happening and the timeframe for various West Cork projects.

Cllr Hayes said: ‘We as councillors are picking up the flak. People don’t realise that Irish Water is responsible for these projects.’

The letter from Irish Water stated: ‘I would like to assure you and the members that it is our intention to provide accurate and up-to-date responses to any queries raised by elected representatives as quickly as possible.’

The letter writer, who mans the ‘local representative support desk’, outlined the way in which elected representatives can get in contact with Irish Water.

They can email the support desk at [email protected] or phone 1890 178178. The letter writer said staff are available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5.30pm to deal with queries from elected representatives about any topic related to Irish Water. And outside of these hours, he said the 24/7 customer care line is available for urgent queries at 1850 278278. The spokesperson also referred them to the councillor clinics, which are held regularly in Cork.

‘If we are unable to provide the relevant information on the day,’ the spokesperson added, ‘we will follow up and respond as quickly as possible.

‘Should the members have any additional queries they may direct them to the Local Representative Support Desk and we will make every effort to respond as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources available to attend divisional meetings as a matter of course. However, we will be happy to address any queries the members may have through any of the channels above.

‘We thank the members of Cork County Council for their support and reiterate our commitment to ensuring they are kept informed of developments in the area.’

Cllr Hayes described the letter as being ‘typical of the kind of waffle we get from Irish Water.’

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