Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

General Scheme of the Water Services Separation Bill 2021: Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent) | Oireachtas source

My concerns about a single identity in Irish Water relate to the connectivity between Irish Water and the local authorities. At this committee last week, I spoke about certain issues in my own area. For six years I served as a county councillor for the Adare-Rathkeale district before I became a Deputy. I have been self-employed all my life. If I ran my business the way Irish Water has run its business, I would not be in business. The connectivity between Irish Water and the councillors who represent the towns and villages of County Limerick has been nothing but shambolic. There has been no connection. Representatives of Irish Water have refused to turn up to meetings and have refused to appear before local councillors who represent the people of County Limerick.

Last week I was given a commitment here in this committee in front of witnesses that I would receive a response directly to a question I asked about Croom in County Limerick. When I am told I will hear something directly, I will give a day or two days, but a week has gone by and I have not received a phone call or an email. If someone is supposed to come back to me directly, common courtesy would require that they would come back to me directly with an answer to the question I asked concerning County Limerick.

The work for which Irish Water has been funded completely discriminates against counties outside city bases. All the funding that has been made available to the LDA has been made for city projects and the upgrading of county projects, not capacity. In my job as an elected representative for County Limerick there should be no discrimination. There should be freedom for everyone to build, whether it is in a local town, village or rural area. The Government did not seem to want to do that when I proposed an amendment to the 2040 plan which allowed for non-discrimination for people to build on their own land. That is an issue that Government has.

My issue here is that if I want to contact somebody in Irish Water, I want connectivity. Since 2013, Irish Water has proven it does not care about the local councillors. It does not even come back to them or appear before them even though they can help Irish Water and advise it on their areas. That is my major concern about any single-identity company. I want the witnesses to give me a guarantee that from today onwards again - this is on the record of the Dáil - that if Irish Water says it is going to get back to me directly, it will do so. My phone is online; it has five numbers. Irish Water can email me, text me or contact me here in my office. I am contactable 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I want to be contacted by Irish Water over concerns I have raised relating to Fedamore and Croom. I do not want to be listening to the same spiel that this will happen in a couple of weeks. For more than a year in response to questions about Fedamore, I have been told that it would take a couple of weeks. The same couple of weeks is coming up. I have had a meeting with Irish Water in my office and on Zoom with our representatives. Last week I was told I would be responded to directly. I would now like Irish Water to come back to me directly. I would like to open communication so I can help Irish Water as much as it can help me in County Limerick.


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