Irish Water cannot remain unaccountable – McGuinness

Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has criticised the inability for public representatives to hold Irish Water to account, and re-iterated his call for the utility to be invited to attend Council meetings. McGuinness had raised a number of issues regarding waste water and sewage treatment systems at the December meeting of Dungarvan-Lismore District Council. 

McGuinness said: 

“It is extremely frustrating that as a public representative I am unable to question Irish Water management or hold them to account. 

“As a Councillor I sit on the Joint Policing Committee where Garda divisional management, up to the rank of Chief-Superintendent, are present and make themselves answerable to Councillors and community representatives.

“Similarly, I represent Waterford on the HSE Regional Forum, where the Chief Officer of HSE South, her staff, and the managers of the hospitals in the region can be questioned on policy and operational matters and held to account by public representatives. 

“There is no such forum or mechanism for holding Irish Water to account. This huge public utility has huge responsibility and its operations cut across public health, environmental, engineering, planning and commercial policy areas, not to mind its core functions of providing water and handling sewage. 

“Its unacceptable that this entity is not subject to accountability at the local and regional level. So much of what it does affects our daily lives, but it also determines where we can build, how clean our river and marine environments are, and how safe our drinking water is. 

“In the wake of the water supply fiasco in Dungarvan this summer I had asked that Irish Water management be invited to attend a Council meetings to answer questions and account for their lack of a back-up plan and their communications failures. 

“Now, faced with serious concerns regarding sewage systems around West Waterford, I repeat that request. This huge entity cannot be beyond public accountability. It can not be above scrutiny. While the Council cannot compel Irish Water to attend our meetings, a good starting point would be to issue an invitation. “

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