Irish Water ‘biggest culprits’ in housing crisis

February 7th, 2023 7:05 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Cllr Joe Carroll blasted the renaming of the utility.

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NOT one house can currently be built in Ballineen or Enniskeane because Irish Water is holding them up, a councillor has claimed.

Delays by the water utility – now rebranded to ‘Uisce Éireann’ –  in progressing works for approved wastewater treatment plant upgrades are ‘stifling’ development, Cllr John Paul O’Shea (FG) has claimed.

Belgooly and Ballinspittle are also impacted, Cllr O’Shea told a recent meeting of Cork County Council, as he called for these projects to be prioritised and said seven villages ‘are literally out on a limb’ unless Uisce Éireann gets moving.

‘The money is there but there has been very little progress and not one will be ready by 2024. I’m asking them to fast-track these projects,’ said Cllr O’Shea, who said ‘not one house’ can be built in the meantime, in any of these villages.

Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said it’s about time councillors start protesting against Uisce Éireann and showing how poorly Cork county is being treated.

‘We must stand up to them, take a posse up to them in Dublin and picket them. We must show them how serious this is in the middle of a housing crisis,’ said Cllr Murphy.

Cllr Bernard Moynihan (FF) agreed and said they need to meet the chief executive.

‘We must go to Dublin and stand outside the door until we get a satisfactory response,’ said Cllr Moynihan.

County mayor Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said they would write to the chief executive to seek a meeting.

‘If this does not happen, we should protest outside the gates,’ said Cllr Collins, who queried why the name of the company has been rebranded.

‘Is this what they’re spending their money on? It’s ridiculous when the name didn’t need to be changed.’

Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said it’s ‘an absolute disgrace’ and said three housing projects for Ballineen/Enniskeane are ‘on the shelf’ due to Uisce Éireann’s inaction.

‘Uisce Éireann is a major failure and they are the biggest culprits in the middle of this housing crisis – they are stunting the construction of houses in villages and towns,’ said Cllr Carroll.

His colleague, Cllr Deirdre Kelly, pointed out that two of the biggest employers in West Cork are located in the twin villages. Two sites with about 50 houses would adequately house some employees from both Carbery and GP Wood, who have to travel miles every day to work, she noted.

Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) said he didn’t hold out much hope that the seven projects would be done by 2024. ‘We need to go up the line and have an urgent meeting in Dublin,’ said Cllr Hayes.

Council deputy chief executive James Fogarty acknowledged the frustration felt by the councillors. ‘Let’s hear from Uisce Éireann the reasons why these projects are being stalled and we need to know in detail what’s holding them up,’ he said.

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