VILLAGES in West Cork will die a death unless their services are taken under the control of Cork County Council.
That was the stark warning issued by Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) after members of the West Cork, Bandon and Kinsale Municipal Districts expressed their extreme frustration with Irish Water at a meeting of the Western Committee in Cork.
At one of the meetings held before the local elections, the councillors were at their most vitriolic claiming that Irish Water had failed rural Ireland because it was not providing drinking water and waste water treatment services, so that small to medium-sized housing developments could secure planning from Cork County Council for construction.
But at the meeting on Monday, the mood was at the opposite end of the scale: councillor after councillor expressed a sense of extreme despondency. Even mayor Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) wearily admitted that he no longer raises the issue of Shannonvale because there seemed to be ‘no point.’
He said the situation in Shannonvale is dire – with sewage seeping into an amenity area adjacent to an intake pipe serving Clonakilty’s drinking supply. It is an issue that all of the local councillors have been raising for years.
Councillor after councillor listed smaller developments – in places like Ballineen, Enniskeane, Ballinascarthy and Kealkil – that are being refused planning by the Council because Irish Water will not sign off on drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in these areas. Cllr Coleman made the point that Irish Water is not capable of dealing with large cities, big towns and small villages all in one brief.
He made a comparison with industrial development, saying: ‘The IDA deals with multinational companies, Enterprise Ireland deals with smaller business, and there are the Local Enterprise Offices dealing small start-ups.’
Cllr Coleman maintained that cities and towns should be dealt with by Irish Water, but added: ‘Our villages need the attention and focus of a local authority to try and get services into them because Irish Water is not in a position to provide these services.’
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) agreed, saying: ‘People are on to us about the future of our villages because they can’t expand without services. It is we, the councillors, who are picking up the flak. People don’t realise that it is Irish Water that is responsible for these projects.’
Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) put it in even stronger terms saying: ‘Irish Water is detrimental to the progression of all towns and villages that do not have a waste water treatment plant.’
In response, Irish Water said it had significant investment in leakage reduction and water quality initiatives, called the Leakage Reduction Programme, which will see an investment of €512 m during the period to 2021. ‘This work will ensure a safe, secure and reliable water supply for homes and businesses in towns and villages in West Cork and will facilitate social and economic development in the area in the future,’ it added.