Council blows meters claim out of the water

Some of the people who took part in the water charges protest in Galway city last Saturday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.
Some of the people who took part in the water charges protest in Galway city last Saturday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Water works carried out at a city estate are not connected with meters installation for individual homes, the local authority has insisted.

Galway City Council was forced yesterday to deny it is carrying out metering preparation work after accusations from Sinn Féin that it was doing Irish Water’s “dirty work”.

City Councillor, Mairéad Farrell, claimed Council workers are carrying out work in Claremont Park in Rahoon, on behalf of Irish Water.

“City Council workers spent Monday working on the stopcocks outside people’s homes. I have been informed that this work is being carried out on behalf of Irish Water. It is apparently part of the preparatory work for the installation of water meters. I would urge the City Council workers to cease doing Irish Water’s dirty work,” she said in a statement.

The City Council, however, has rejected the claims, and said the work has nothing to do with Irish Water.

Rejecting the charge that it was doing Irish Water’s ‘dirty work’, a spokesperson for the Council said: “Councillor Farrell is putting two and two together and coming up with eight . . . the works have absolutely nothing to do with installing individual meters to gauge water consumption in homes.”

Edel McCormack, Director of Services with Galway City Council, also separately insisted the works being carried out at Claremont Park were routine and have nothing to do with metering for Irish Water.

Ms McCormack explained that leaks were detected in the Claremont Park, and City Council crews replaced two stopcocks. They hope the two new stopcocks will rectify the leakages. It was decided to install two meter boxes – not meters – so that if the new stopcocks haven’t rectified the problem, the Council can go back and install meters. The meters will help to identify the source of the leaks, and are not to measure consumption of individual homes, she insisted.

“This is routine work, we’ve been doing it for years and we will continue to do it,” she said.

Despite the denials, Cllr Farrell insists that the works carried out by the Council is preparatory work that is facilitating Irish Water in its meter installation plans.

She added: “The majority of Galwegians, indeed the majority of people in the 26 Counties, are diametrically opposed to water metering. It is just the first step in the planned privatisation of water. What the right-wing political parties did with refuse collection, they now intend to do with water. It is not in the interests of the people of Galway or your own interests.”

Cllr Farrell, and Independent Cllr Mike Cubbard, are proposing an emergency motion at Monday’s City Council meeting. It calls for the abolition of Irish Water and the abolition of water charges.

The motion reads: “‘This Council recognises that water is a human right and as such calls for the abolition of water charges and the dismantling of Irish Water.  This Council reaffirms its commitment to remain an independent authority and as such declares itself unwilling to supply details of council tenants to Irish Water.” City Councillors’ inboxes have been inundated by emails from people urging them to support the emergency motion.

Meanwhile, Cllr Farrell will join the Right2Water protest in Dublin, next Wednesday, December 10. Four buses are already filled for the trip to the Dáil on Wednesday and scores more are expected to travel separately.