THE power of the media was invoked by a Fine Gael councillor who wants Uisce Éireann representatives to publicly attend Cork County Council’s Western Divisional Committee meetings.
At present, councillors have the opportunity to attend quarterly clinics, held in private County Hall, to raise sewage and water connection issues with Uisce Éireann, formerly Irish Water.
But councillors want the utility representatives to attend quarterly meetings that deal with infrastructural issues throughout West Cork.
In a bid to ‘bring about transparency,’ Cllr John O’Sullivan – together with Fine Gael Cllrs Kevin Murphy, Marie O’Sullivan and Caroline Cronin – tabled a motion calling for Uisce Éireann representatives to attend these public meetings.
‘Uisce Éireann is,’ according to Cllr O’Sullivan, ‘responsible for spending significant amounts of national funding. This is public taxpayers’ money and deserves to be discussed in public where there is accountability.’
The clinics, according to Cllr Marie O’Sullivan, have not been productive. ‘We want them to attend our divisional meetings on a quarterly basis and provide us with start and competition dates for various projects,’ she said. Cllr Kevin Murphy said ‘astronomical amounts of money’ are being charged for water and sewage connections and the costs are inhibiting development.
‘We want answers,’ he said, ‘not long-fingered ideas. If we have a question about sewage and water problems they say it is being “looked at”,’ he added. ‘This is not good enough. When we ask questions, we want proper answers.’
Cllr Caroline Cronin said there are very real, practical issues that need to be discussed, like the GAA pitch in Ballydehob, which had its water supply cut off 10 months ago. Anytime she calls Uisce Éireann to discuss the matter, she said she is put on to a different person and nothing gets resolved. ‘The Cúl Camp didn’t go ahead this summer because the children can’t have water on their GAA pitch,’ she added.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said he, too, was very unhappy with the situation. He complained that the ‘special’ contact number given to public representatives puts them through to the switchboard and ‘you might as well be talking to the postman.’
Cllr Deirdre Kelly (FG) said residents in Dunmanway had their water cut off recently and weren’t given enough notice to even fill their kettles. ‘This is not a two-way street,’ she said, ‘it’s so unfair.’
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) suggested their complaints should be noted and sent as a letter to the minister.
‘He needs to hear and feel our anxiety about how Uisce Éireann are dealing with our queries,’ said Cllr Hurley. ‘It’s time to let the minister see how frustrated we are.’