Local Fianna Fáil councillor Aengus O’Rourke says trying to get Irish Water to do anything amounts to “pushing a boulder up a hill” and is calling for the utility’s responsibilities to be handed back to local authorities.
“I am beyond frustrated dealing with the cumbersome, bureaucratic, and senseless quango that is Irish Water,” Cllr O’Rourke said. “Mrs Cleary in Columbas Terrace, Athlone, is just one example of how hopeless this whole Irish Water fiasco is. Here we have a pensioner having to buy a set of sewer rods in order to clear a combined sewer junction at the back of her house which carries waste from hers and other houses.
“There is a small break on the line and as a result the line backs up regularly. However, in order to keep the line flowing, Mrs Cleary has to go out every day and rod the line herself. I first took this issue up months ago with Irish Water, and despite scores of phone calls, emails, promises, and surveys there is no progress in sight.”
Cllr O’Rourke said that before Irish Water the local council staff, who “know every inch of our waste water and sewage network”, would have called out and repaired the damage within a matter of days. However, he said that since the launch of the utility, bureaucracy has taken over and made it increasingly difficult to get things done.
“We have the manpower to do the job but they are precluded from doing it unless Irish Water give permission,” he said. “It is a hideous situation and I am more convinced than ever that Irish Water should be abolished and the job given back to the local authorities.
“Shame on Irish Water and the Government for allowing a situation to develop where a pensioner living on her own has to rod out a communal sewer on a daily basis. I regard this as an abuse of and an insult to Mrs Cleary. This is a shocking situation and demonstrates a level incompetence that cannot be allowed to continue.
“I have been happy to help Mrs Cleary on occasions at her home but it sickens me to see what this lady has to do at this stage in her life. Going public on this issue was not my desired course of action, but to be ignored in the face of such abuse of an elderly person in my view required bold action.”