A “failure of operational management “ within Irish Water is being blamed for the beleaguered State utility's decision to roll out a boil water notice to scores of homes across Co Longford last week.
Longford-Westmeath Sinn Féín TD Sorca Clarke launched a scathing attack this week on the public water company's management, saying the rationale behind the announcement had raised more questions than it had answered.
Senior chiefs last Thursday evening said it was enforcing a boil water notice for the Longford Central Public Water Supply owing to fears a cryptosporidium barrier at its Longford Central Public Water treatment plant had been compromised.
Ms Clarke called on the water services company to issue clarity to the 17,500 people across the county affected by the announcement, adding the grounds behind the decision was especially troubling.
“If you are talking about cryptosporidium, this is a waterborne bug and it’s not the first time there have been issues like this with Irish Water,” she said.
“We have seen it in Kerry and Wexford and in Tipperary a boil water notice was in place for two and a half years but that can’t be a situation that is replicated in Longford where you have 17,500 people affected.
“It’s not good enough. I met with Irish Water two weeks ago and this was never mentioned as a possible concern and that is deeply disappointing.”
The former Westmeath county councillor said the level of shock and exasperation felt locally by the decision was further evidence of the public’s distrust of a company which was first set up seven years ago.
“This is a failure of operational management and Irish Water has very serious questions to ask,” she said.
“We all know systems can fail, yet we can see this is a repeated failure not only in Longford, but across the country to ensure the water we drink is safe.
“There are people with very young children who are now faced with having to travel to other families and friends in the midst of a pandemic because they don’t feel safe bathing their babies or young children with the water that is coming out of their taps.”
Those comments were ones which were shared by Longford Sinn Féin representative Tena Keown.
She said it was her Leinster House party colleague who, in fact, informed her of the boil notice, insisting the effectiveness of Irish Water’s ability to inform customers had left a lot to be desired.
“I thought Irish Water, with all the money that was pumped into them, were going to clean up all of this but it just looks like it’s more money down the drain,” she said.
“I didn’t get word until 9:22pm on Wednesday night when Sorca rang me from the Dáil, but a lot of people aren’t on social media and wouldn’t have known about it until the next morning.
“We (Sinn Féín) had loads of messages asking what areas were affected too.
“If you don’t have access to a computer and are relying on the media, how are people supposed to know?
“It’s been word of mouth really that the message has got out and it’s just not good enough.”
Irish Water has revealed it "cannot be conclusive" as to when a boil water notice affecting almost half of county Longford's population will be lifted.
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