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Murrisk community hold protest over water problems

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BIG PROBLEM The meeting was told the village of Murrisk will struggle to develop without a reliable water supply.

Residents told group water scheme is an option

Anton McNulty

The community of Murrisk were urged not to rule out forming a group water scheme to solve their water problems, despite major reservations from the community and local councillors.
Members of the Murrisk and Lecanvey communities staged at protest at the gates of the Murrisk Community Centre at the foot of Croagh Patrick to highlight the lack of a reliable water supply ahead of yesterday’s (Monday) meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District.
There was no good news for the affected communities with Iarla Moran, the Head of Water in Mayo County Council, confirming the Irish Water have no plans extend the Lough Mask water supply from Westport to Murrisk.
“To get a water supply to Murrisk would involve Irish Water committing to continue the pipeline to Louisburgh and Murrisk. That is not on Irish Water’s current community development plan,” he told the meeting.
In his address to the meeting, Mr Moran said the priority for Irish Water was to take communities off boil water notices and fix existing leaking pipes and creating new customers was not a priority.
He told the councillors and members of the community who were present at the meeting that the quickest way of getting clean water may be through forming a group water scheme.
However local councillors and members of the community voiced their opposition to the option. Cathaoirleach of the West Mayo Municipal District, Cllr Michael Holmes, urged the community to not go down this road, saying that group water schemes have split communities and many current group water schemes wanted to be taken over by Irish Water.
The meeting had earlier been addressed by Raoul Downey of the Murrisk Development Association who outlined the difficulty the community faced in developing without a reliable safe and clean drinking water supply.

National attractions
The village is the home of the National Famine Monument as well as the start of the Croagh Patrick climb and attracts 200,000 people every year. Mr Downey said there was no reliable water source for the community and they feel they are being denied their basic human rights by not having access to clean water. He called for the extension of the Lough Mask Water Supply from Westport to Louisburgh which he said had been agreed to in 2007 but was never developed.
“Given the significance of Murrisk and its importance to the economic well-being of not only Westport but the country’s tourism industry in general it is nothing short of scandalous that the village and the community are expected to shoulder the burden of meeting the needs of visitors from near and far without access to a fundamental and vital resource, namely clean, safe, and drinkable water,” Mr Downey said.
Cllr Michael Holmes said he did not know of any other community in Mayo who were in a similar situation to Murrisk and said they needed to bring their campaign to a national level in order to reach their objectives.
“I have been coming to Murrisk for over 50 years and I was not aware it [the water situation] was in a diabolical state,” he said. “Standing at the gates today was only a start, you need to stand outside other gates and wait there until you get it.”
Westport-based councillor Christy Hyland said 100,000 people climb Croagh Patrick every year and said the colour of water coming out of the taps was ‘a disgrace’. He said people had to pay for their own filtration system and were still not guaranteed clean water.
Cllr Brendan Mulroy commented that the country had ‘lost the plot’ when there was no water supply for Murrisk and three TDs wanted to go to North Korea. He said there was no logic to developing a Greenway from Westport to Louisburgh which would bring up to 350,000 people into the area when the water supply is not up to standard.

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