Kenneth Flood Hits out at Irish Water

Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has hit out at Irish Water following their own report released this week acknowledging that they should have acted sooner in their response to the Drogheda water crisis.

The crisis left more than 80,000 homes and businesses without water for up to eight days in July.Cllr Flood said “Irish Water has had years now to learn its lessons when it comes to burst mains, especially in Drogheda, where we had the North Quay Water-main bursting several times a year before finally being replaced. Even then it was only replaced several years after the funding was allocated to do so.”

“We have highlighted problems with response times and communication repeatedly to Irish Water representatives when they came to the Drogheda Municipal District Meetings and through emails and now their own report is another admission that no lessons have been learned.”

“Irish Water is not fit for purpose. It was never fit for purpose. It never will be fit for purpose. It was set up as a cash cow for government cronies.  The responsibility for water services should be returned to the local authorities and properly invested in or else all we will get is more of the same from Irish Water.”

 

Sinn Féin Hit Out at Drogheda being left High & Dry

The Drogheda Sinn Féin Team, Deputy Imelda Munster, Cllr Joanna Byrne, Cllr David Saurin and Cllr Kenneth Flood have slammed Irish Water and central government for their handling of the water crisis that has engulfed South Louth and East Meath since a water-main burst at the Slateen Water Treatment Plant on Friday 21st of July.

Deputy Munster said “The attitude of central government has been shameful. Hands off, aloof and distant. Despite the crocodile tears of their representative in Drogheda they have not treated this emergency with anywhere near the urgency it requires. We’ve been given false hope after false hope and there is still no definite end to this crisis”.

Cllr. Joanna Byrne said, “As elected representatives we have been reacting to every situation as it arises as best and as fast as we can. In the four days of this crisis I have liaised with Louth County Council to ensure tankers of water have fed businesses and residential areas throughout Drogheda. This has meant that tankers of water have come from as far away as Thurles, Carlow and Kilkenny. At my request there have been additional water resources made available for the Fire Brigade in Drogheda too with back-up tankers being deployed from Dundalk to ensure the Drogheda Fire Service have sufficient water to tackle any call out they may get.

“What is most vexing is that The Rosehall Water Treatment plant, that I am informed could serve 40 to 80 percent of the Northside of Drogheda, was decommissioned only two months ago. We need to find out why this happened and why was Irelands 6th largest urban centre left to be fed from only a single source?”

Cllr. Kenneth Flood said “I have been on the record from the very start stating that Irish Water was not fit for purpose. Instead of fixing the out of date water network their first priority was metering. For years we experienced water outages when the North Quay water-main burst and even after the funding was allocated to replace it, Irish Water still took years to finally get on with the job. Irish Water must be questioned as to why they have not run a temporary pipe between parts of that main are not damaged as they did during the North Quay water-main replacement works to ensure a continuous supply of water? This crisis has shone a glaring light on Irish Water’s inadequacies and they can not be allowed to continue as they are”.

Cllr. David Saurin has paid tribute to the people affected by the water crisis. Cllr Saurin said, “from The Order of Malta to The Scouts among others, there have been volunteer groups distributing water to the elderly and those without transport who are unable to access the Council Water Stations or to get water from the shops. In this heat it would be understandable if tempers were to begin to fray but at the water stations neighbours have been helping each other out, carrying heavy containers and keeping each others spirits up.”

Finally, Deputy Munster said “the Sinn Fein team in Drogheda will continue to respond to residents needs and requests over the coming days and will assist those in need in any way we can”.

Cllr Flood – Estates not ‘Taken In Charge’ disadvantaged

Kenneth FloodSinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has said “it beggars belief that Louth County Council have not referred several estates, numbering hundreds of homes, to Irish Water to progress the ‘taking in charge’ process, despite repeated assurances throughout the year that they have done so.”

In December 2015 Cllr Flood gave a report to Louth County Council on the ‘taking in charge’ of Aston Village and Termon Abbey. Cllr Flood was told that “the developments would be referred to Irish Water to assess and report on their water services prior to commencing the statutory process of taking in charge. During the year I contacted more than one council official on more than one occasion asking for an update on the ‘taking in charge’ process relating to these developments, only to be told that the matter was with Irish Water and no further information could be given.”

Cllr Flood also contacted the Council on behalf of Forest Park and Beaulieu View regarding their taking in charge status only to be given a similar answer.

Cllr Flood said “When no updates were forthcoming I contacted Irish Water directly who informed me that they had received no notification from Louth County Council regarding taking in charge any of these developments.”

“Because this information contradicted that we had been told in the council chamber, via email and over the phone, I put a question to the meeting of the Borough District of Drogheda where LCC confirmed they hadn’t in fact referred the developments to Irish Water, stating that outstanding clarifications were needed before referral. No specific details were given and still have not been given.”

Cllr Flood explained “The home-owners in these developments are obliged by the government to pay local property tax, but because the developments are not ‘taken in charge’ they cannot access all the services and protections that these taxes pay for. In 2014 the Liscorrie estate in Drogheda had all of its street lights turned off for several weeks by the ESB because the developer had not paid its electricity bills. This would not have happened if the estate was ‘taken in charge’ by the council”.

“Last month council officials stated that these matters would be dealt with and an update was expected at yesterday’s Municipal District Meeting. Those clarifications were not forthcoming and we are none the wiser as to when the ‘taking in charge’ process, and the protections and services that tax payers are already paying for that comes with it, will be finalised.”

Cllr Flood said “This is an unacceptable situation and I will be following up on these matters until they are fully and finally resolved”.

Imelda Munster – Honour Your Commitments on Irish Water

Imelda Munster at deskSpeaking yesterday in the Dáil Louth’s Imelda Munster TD had a clear message for the Government on the issue of Irish Water and their charges.

“The Government must now accept that they failed miserably to win the support of the people for their water tax, their quango that is Irish Water. The people had their day and their say on the 26th February.

“You see, despite what the government had been saying Water Charges WERE the single biggest issue that mobilised , rallied and ignited the spirit of protest and determination to fight back in the Irish people that had not been seen for decades. This was because the unfairness of the government’s austerity policies was obvious to everyone except the government. People recognised from  the start that Irish Water was a toxic entity.”

Continuing, the TD for Louth pointed out to the government that “the people knew that they were already paying for water through general taxation. They were also aware that they were paying PRSI, PAYE, Universal Social Charges, Motor Tax, LPT, Toll Charges, Bin Charges, A&E charges, and Emergency Service Charges. They were also aware that you had cut these services to the bone.”

Imelda Munster TD accused the government of heaping yet another tax “on to the working man and woman and those who could least afford to pay by a government hell bent on bulldozing this through regardless.”

“But how wrong you were!
“You did not break the back of the hundreds of thousands who mobilised on to the streets in every city, town and village across this state.”

And in a very clear message, Deputy Munster said “Any attempt to fudge addressing this issue by either short term suspension or by setting up a commission whereby a government and those propping them up will have a majority to veto abolition will not be tolerated.

“A democracy represents the will of the people and 90 TDs who pledged to abolish water charges were elected to this chamber and will be expected to honour their commitment given to the people.

“So let me be clear, the motion signed by 39 TDs calling for the abolition of water charges, and Irish Water is not going to go away. So I say to the incoming government and those propping them up—

“Honour your commitments, honour the mandate you were given, respect the will of the people Abolish water charges, abolish Irish Water and nothing less will suffice”.

Deputy Munster Dismayed over Disregard for Environment

imelda photo orangeLouth Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has expressed her dismay at Irish Water’s total disregard for the environment following the successful prosecution of the company by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Irish Water were prosecuted for failing to ensure sewage waste from a water treatment plant at Tinure did not cause pollution.

The fine imposed was to the value of €2,000 but Irish Water were given the option to donate this money to charity in order to avoid a criminal conviction.

Deputy Munster said she was “disillusioned as to why Irish Water appears to get away with causing pollution on a regular basis”.

“This isn’t the first instance of pollution by Irish Water. In the past eighteen months there have been two other incidents similar to this in Monaghan and Cavan, which saw Irish Water fined. These are only the incidents that we are aware of. It’s also worth noting that the company has only been fined €3,500 combined, despite the fact that each case could carry a maximum fine of €5,000.”

“There have also been calls on many occasions to investigate other areas, such as claimed sewage discharge in Doldrum Bay, Howth. Although the prosecutions have been welcomed, the EPA must go further in ensuring our waters remain pollution free. Repeat offenders must be actively discouraged from polluting and I feel that a combined fine of €3,500 does not have that effect on a company which is willing to spend another €88 million on meters which have the potential to become obsolete.”

“I will be raising the issue with the minister via parliamentary questions. I want to know what measures, if any, have been put in place to prevent incidents like these occurring in the future; how stringent these measures are; and have there been other allegations of pollution, and if so, have they been followed up?”

Deputy Munster pointed out that “if pollution was being carried out by a local farmer or business, the courts would be quick to deter them from committing such crimes again. It is baffling how Irish Water is continually punished with a slight slap on the wrist.”