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Clew Bay beaches to close now too?


PROTEST Locals’ protests over dirty drinking water escalated following the recent hospitalisation of a child.

Public meeting told protest may escalate further over water quality

Áine Ryan

THE closure of beaches along the southern shores of Clew Bay’s Wild Atlantic Way, as well as the already threatened closure of holy mountain Croagh Patrick, was discussed at a public meeting in Lecanvey last night (Monday) over the ongoing issues with dirty drinking water in the area.   
Community leaders and landowners from Murrisk to Louisburgh asked the meeting for ‘a mandate to pursue whatever line of protest is required’ to ensure that communities in Belclare, Murrisk, Lecanvey, Kilsallagh and Louisburgh are serviced with a public water system.
The chairman of Murrisk Development Association told The Mayo News last night that they had always predicted ‘it would take something serious, like the recent hospitalisation of a local child to heighten awareness of the serious problem with water’.  
“As a committee we will be seeking a mandate to pursue whatever line of protest is required to advance our efforts to secure the Lough Mask public water supply extension to Louisburgh, which was sanctioned in 2007 and for which the money was granted by the then government,” Chris Grady said.
He continued: “The closure of the access points to the Reek [by commonage owners] along with similar action on the access to our beaches will, of course, be under consideration. While we have no wish to cause disruption to the tourist industry or indeed the local population, the lack of action by the present government leaves us with no alternative.”

Child hospitalised
THE hospitalisation of six-year-old Carey Hegarty last month with e-coli and cryptosporidium has brought the controversy to a new level of community concern. Even though the Hegarty family has a quality UV water filter, all three of their daughters, Carey, Denny (8) and Maely (3) became ill from using tap water to brush their teeth, as they never ingest the tap water otherwise.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, their mother Elisa Hegarty, said she was initially sure it was a bug because they are so careful about water use.
“Carey had significant diarrhoea and vomiting for eight days, she had not eaten and couldn’t even drink, she was getting thinner by the day and even fell to the floor, she was so weak. When we realised it wasn’t just a bug and called WestDoc they sent her straight to hospital where she was put on a drip in an isolation ward. Tests revealed she had e-coli and cryptosporidium,” Elisa Hegarty said. After three days in Mayo University Hospital she was discharged and only returned to school last week for the second day in a month.
Ms Hegarty says tests of the water carried out by a HSE Environmental Health Officer is damning of the water system in the area. The expert report, seen by The Mayo News,  revealed that a sample of Murrisk water showed 36 counts of e-coli, 411 times the limit of coliforms and the parasite cryptosporidium.        
Frustrated homeowner
IT is over a decade (2007) since Mayo County Council wrote to Mary Clark, who owns a holiday home in Murrisk, to ask her to sell a way-leave to facilitate the mains for a public water system to traverse her property. They told her they were planning to carry out this work. This was in the aftermath of a €6.3 million grant allocated by then Minister for the Environment Dick Roche for a public water project from Westport to Louisburgh, and, while the total grant was never drawn down, €500,000 was spent on a design for the system.
“They also told me that I would have to provide the pipe link between my house and the road as they would not pay for this. I not only sold the land to the council but had the pipe connection built at my own expense so I was ready to receive that new facility. I am now told that Irish Water are not ready to include this work in their capital programme for ten years.
“It seems extraordinary that work which was fully designed and tendered ten years ago is now not included in any plans and that I was misled into granting this way-leave and spending money on a scheme which apparently has no future,” she told The Mayo News.
Explaining that she lets her house out to visitors, she said that the issue with the water quality has increasingly caused problems with ‘on one occasion the visitors refusing to stay until the water issues were resolved’.
Arguing that such a water situation was unacceptable in 2018, she said: “There are funded plans to extend the Greenway to the very area that is deprived of mains water. If I was a visitor I would give Murrisk a ‘Five-Star’ review if it wasn’t for the lack of mains water.”


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