Irish Water could be facing bills for thousands of euro in compensation, a local senator has claimed, accusing the controversial body of "throwing businesses and jobs in Oranmore into disarray" yesterday.
A meeting was convened yesterday [Tuesday June 2] in Oranmore to inform businesses about imminent road closures to facilitate a water services upgrade and water main rehabilitation works by Irish Water. The works are scheduled from June 18 to September 25, excluding Race Week.
According to Independent senator Fidelma Healy-Eames, the meeting was convened only "at a few hours notice" with no advance notice or advance consultation, and came "as a shock". While the works will involve temporary road closures and there will be 24 hour access to Oranmore at all times, Sen Healy-Eames said the "inconvenience to business" and the knock-on effect is "highly likely reduced trade", and is a "real fear for those in the hospitality trade who rely heavily on the tourist season".
Businesses present at the meeting raised concerns that the works, and their duration, would send out a message that "Oranmore is closed for business". Indeed, one business owner present spoke about his concern that he would have to "contact everyone booked" for the period of the works near his establishment, to inform them in case they would wish to cancel. Another business spoke about its partner business having already suffered a 60 per cent loss in trade due to the Lough Atalia works. Another spoke about her business having "finally turned a corner after three years" and the unlikelihood that the "bank manager would accept water works as an excuse for reduced trade".
Sen Healy-Eames accused Irish Water of having "the gall" to "treat the people of Oranmore like this" without "the courtesy of one public meeting in advance to agree best times to carry out these works". She said she will be contacting Irish Water and "putting them on notice" that it can expect "compensation claims in the thousands of euro for hitting business in this manner without any consultation". She said this will be "easy enough for businesses to prove when they compare their takings with the same period last year".