North Kilkenny councillors are furious that officials from Irish Water have declined to attend a meeting to answer questions about water issues in the area.
They want answers on matters such as the ongoing drinking water restrictions in Ballyragget, and the continued discolouration of the water in Clogh Moneenroe. Fine Gael councillor John Brennan says the problem is such that the water is ‘black’ at times.
One local woman told the Kilkenny People that a load of whites she had put in the washing machine recently, including her partner’s white chef clothes, were stained beyond saving.
“I spent two weeks trying to get the colour out — they’re totally destroyed,” she said.
“I tried a full thing of Vanish, and I tried a laundry bleach. It’s like as if they were steeped in a bucket of tea for a month.”
At the AGM of the Castlecomer Municipal District, senior executive officer Michael Delahunty told the members Irish Water had responded to their request, saying they are not in a position to attend the monthly meeting, but hold regular clinics which councillors can attend. The next such clinic is on Monday, June 18.
However, the councillors were very unhappy with this, and said Irish Water should be accountable to them in a public meeting, and not 'behind closed doors'. Cllr Pat Millea (FF) said the response was an ‘insult’, and proposed writing back to Irish Water asking them to reconsider their decision.
Cllr Millea said people were still hearing that the water in Ballyragget was not fit for consumption by children under the age of six months.
“I propose we reject that letter as an insult to us, and call on them to reconsider," he said.
Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick seconded this proposal.
“It is outrageous the way they treat members,” he said.
"‘Come back and see us again — behind closed doors’. I thought they had moved on from that old-fashioned way. It should be out here in the chamber, and let us ask questions and get answers.
"They should give us the courtesy - we were elected by the people. It's not on and it's outrageous, and I for one am not accepting that response."
Cllr John Brennan said Irish Water had said in 2016 that ice pigging work would be done on the pipe network, and had even appointed a contractor. Two years on, the manganese issue persists.
“All Irish Water is interested in is the bigger schemes — in Cork, Dublin, Limerick. And people in smaller parishes are forgotten about,” he said.
"It's time Irish Water got down off their high horse, and engaged. It's going on far too long."
Cllr Mary Hilda Cavanagh also raised the issue of the six months of age water restriction.
"Every time I hear that notice - if my child is six and a half months, is it safe now? If it's not safe at six months, what about six months and a week?"
She said the message was ‘members are infuriated with the response they got, and please come to the meeting’.
“Irish Water should be sitting at the top table and we should be able to ask them questions in public and with the press present,” she said.