independent

Monday 22 October 2018

Call for review into Irish Water's handling of water crisis

Fiona Magennis

As the water finally returned to Drogheda and the dust settled on a crisis which saw thousands of homes stranded without water, local politicians united to call for the establishment of an independent review into Irish Water's handling of the Drogheda water supply emergency.

Local TD Fergus O'Dowd has written in his capacity as chairperson of the joint Oireachtas committee on housing and local government asking that Irish Water and other potential witnesses are asked to attend the first available committee meeting in September to discuss the recent crisis in Drogheda, South Louth and East Meath following the burst watermain.

'I believe the seriousness of this failure of supply to over 70,000 people requires oireachtas scrutiny. The holding of such hearings will, I believe, help the public's understanding of how Irish water operates, including identifying the threats to our water supply elsewhere in the country , the need for proper emergency planning and local coordination of statutory and voluntary services in the event of any such future catastrophic failure.'

Local Senator Ged Nash has also written to the Minister for Housing and Local Government calling for the establishment of an independent review into Irish Water's handling of the emergency situation in the north east.

'As the water supply to Drogheda tentatively returns, Irish Water must be held to account on their handling of the response to a crisis that has cast the spotlight on the company's ability to respond to and manage emergencies of this scale.

'Why did it take Irish Water five days into the crisis to collectively brief local Oireachtas members and Councillors? Why did it take days to mobilise the Defence Forces and other agencies under State control? Why did it take several days to get water tankers to areas that were almost entirely cut off from the water supply?'

Meanwhile, independent Councillor Kevin Callan expressed his anger over what he described as the 'misleading' information provided to the public over the recent repair works.

'I am utterly disgusted that Irish Water waited until after they met with elected representatives and indeed until they had the pipe in the ground to suddenly stop using words like 'repair' and 'replace' to now identify the work they are doing as being a patch solution which in the coming weeks and months will now require further works and interruption to service,' he said.

The Drogheda Branch of People Before Profit branded Irish water and the Minister for the Environment as 'a disgrace' who had presided over one of the most incompetent events in recent Irish history.

'If it were not for a huge voluntary effort, there would be a serious risk to human life and health.'

Drogheda Independent

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