Tuesday 6 December 2016

Irish Water queried on bad smells, rats and rude staff

Published 28/12/2015 | 02:30

Photo: Colm Mahady
Photo: Colm Mahady

Several Government Ministers were among the elected representatives who lodged thousands of complaints with Irish Water about pungent odours, rude staff, rodents and sewage issues.

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The utility company received a total of 6,672 representations from councillors and Oireachtas members between the months of January and June of this year to its dedicated Elected Representative Support Desk.

Of these 2,175 came from TDs and Senators, while the rest related specifically to local authority council members.

The specific support desk is manned by seven members of staff, from 9am to 5.30pm on weekdays. This means that the dedicated desk received a request almost every 15 minutes, on average, in the first six months of the year from elected representatives.

The majority of the queries from the Cabinet came from Environment Minister Alan Kelly, who lodged 227 representations. These questions dealt with domestic billing issues, metering, operations and water quality.

He also queried, on behalf of customers, if there was any risk to the health of those who drank water from asbestos cement pipes.

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys made 24 queries, while Communications Minister Alex White made 23 requests for information.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's office made six representations to the support desk, while Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan made none.

Among the number of queries made by Government ministers, 155 related to domestic billing, 63 to metering and 40 to operations.

There were 15 representations about water quality, three in terms of assets, two for procurement, four general queries and one general complaint.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe, who made a total of 18 queries over the course of six months, asked staff in the utility company to investigate rude staff and a rodent problem.

"I've had a constituent tell me that some of your staff have placed barriers blocking access to people's homes and also that the residents did not receive any notification of the meter installation process.

Incident

"She told me that the workers were rude to her," he wrote about the incident, which is alleged to have occurred in Phibsboro in Dublin.

"I would ask that you please investigate this incident with a view to preventing it from happening again."

Children's Minister James Reilly called on chiefs at the company to investigate a complaint from a constituent who said the issue of raw sewerage being pumped into bathing areas in Rush made his "blood boil".

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton was told that about 8pc of Irish Water roles had been filled by candidates on the Live Register.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan made several representations about a pungent odour annoying the locals in Portlaoise in his constituency.

And, as recently as July, he wrote he had received four complaints from constituents about an odour issue, which possibly stemmed from incorrect covers on manholes.

Irish Independent

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