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Pilgrims show support for water campaign

News

MAKING THEIR POINT  Local residents staged a peacful protest at the foot of Croagh Patrick on Reek Sunday to highlight their campaign for a clean water supply. Among them at the front were sisters Carey Hegarty (7) who was hospitalised earlier this year due to cyptosporidium, pictured with her sisters Denny (8) and Maely (4).  Pic: Michael Mc Laughlin

Áine Ryan

MINISTER Michael Ring is ‘committed to resolving the drinking water issues for the communities from Belclare to Louisburgh’. That is according to Mr Chris Grady, the chairman of Murrisk Development Association (MDA), whose members were among the 60-strong cross-community ‘gathering’ at the foot of Croagh Patrick highlighting the serious issues with the local drinking water on Reek Sunday.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, Mr Grady confirmed that he and Mr John Staunton, of Louisburgh, had met with Minister Ring and representatives of Mayo County Council and Irish Water officials on Friday last to discuss the issue. Despite private filtration systems installed by homeowners, dirty drinking water led to the hospitalisation of a young girl last April with cryptosporidium and e-coli.
“Irish Water has offered us a supply but there needs to be further discussion and investigations into the proposed sources of that water supply and how it is delivered. We also welcome the fact that the minister has expressed his commitment to working with the cross-community group towards resolving the issues,” Mr Grady said.
Over a decade ago the then Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche allocated €6.3 million for a public water system to Louisburgh but the money was ultimately never drawn down.
Mr Grady also told The Mayo News that ‘there was a very positive response to Sunday’s  ‘gathering’.
“Obviously, pilgrims from within the county were familiar with the campaign, [We need mains water now – Belclare to Louisburgh] but people from the rest of the country and abroad were very interested and showed great support for us. In fact one man who came across the Mayo County Council sign at the public toilets about not drinking the water returned to us and asked for a placard and joined the group,” he continued.

Show of support
Speaking also to The Mayo News yesterday, local resident Elisa Hegarty said ‘the protest was really peaceful and we definitely received so much support from the pilgrims who stopped to talk to us’. She made special T-shirts (see pic) for her three daughters, Carey (7) who, as stated above, was hospitalised earlier this year, as well as for Denny (8) and Maely (4).   
“So many of the pilgrims had no idea that we had no proper drinking water supply from Belclare to Louisburgh and many of them took pictures and promised to put them up on social media to highlight the issue in their areas,” Elisa said
Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh was among the public representatives who showed her support for the communities on Sunday.
She has called on Minister Ring ‘to use his cabinet position to instruct and resource Irish Water to take immediate action on extending the pipeline from Westport to Louisburgh, which is the only sustainable option available’.
“After all, these communities have waited for over a decade since the design plans were completed,” she told The Mayo News yesterday.
Commending the large number of people who turned up to carry the placards and explain to pilgrims why they were protesting, she said: “It’s time for Minister Ring to show which side he is on.”

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