Elizabeth Arnett, Head of Communications for Irish Water stated on Newstalk today that she would investigate complaints from Buncrana Together. A spokesperson for Buncrana Together, James Quigley, who put the questions to Ms Arnett stated that local groups will do a detailed survey of Inishowen areas which have already been metered. This survey will then be presented to Irish Water.
On the Pat Kenny Newstalk radio show today Tuesday 30th 2015, Elizabeth Arnett, Irish Water's head of communications responded to questions sent in by James Quigley, a member of Buncrana Together (see questions below). She confirmed that all residents should receive fourteen days notice prior to meter installation, followed by two days and finally a knock on the door informing the occupier the water about to be turned off and meter installed. She also confirmed that work should not be started before the recognised starting time.
On being informed by James Quigley that that was not happening in the Inishowen Peninsula Ms Arnett agreed to investigate the complaints that were supplied. See below supplied questions from Buncrana Together.
Although in the programme there were some very interesting questions and some interesting and questionable answers Elazabeth Arnett was let off the hook by Pat Kenny. In some instances not only did Pat not investigate topics but many times he intervened and changed the subject, leading proceedings away from issues. Below is an extract of Buncrana Together's questions and Ms Arnett's answers:
BT: "We have evidence of Irish Water sub contractors installing meters at unsocial times before their own stated commencing time of 7.30am. People wake up in morning and find a meter installed. Is this not illegal."
Arnett: "I wouldn't like to think we have contractors very early in the morning disturbing people. So if that is the case, if people have been disturbed by construction noise very early in the morning we would encourage them to ring us and let us know and we would deal with that."
Bit of a fudge, don't you think? Nothing about evidence, nothing about it being legal or not. However, she does say if that is the case 'we would deal with that'. Well Elizabeth, Irish Water have been informed on many occasions. Irish Water will no doubt be informed again when the survey results will be forwarded to all relevant parties.
BT: "In Inishowen Irish Water sub contractors have been installing meters
without any notice or warnings to householders. Irish Water have stated
on their site that householders will get 2 weeks notice with an
approximate starting date, then a 2 day notice prior to starting and
then Irish Water personnel will knock on doors to let people know they
are starting. Why is Irish Water not abiding by their own protocols?"
Arnett: "Well we should not be doing that. So if its not happening I'll look into it and make sure that it is. Your are quite right people are entitled to get notice if we are going to be installing meters particularly when and if we have to limit the supply into the property, which is probable for about 15 minutes. None the less people should be getting the notice and I will look into that."
Well that seems quite clear, Notices have to be given. However, Irish Water have been supplied with information to the contrary by Buncrana Together and Moville Community Against Water Meters, many times and it has continued. The organisers of the survey will be interested to know what Elizabeth and Irish Water will do when our complaints are substantiated. For instance, what will they do about all the meters installed on properties who did not want them and did not get notified?
BT: "Why does Irish Water not recognise No Meter Here signs on houses?
These houses had no contract with Irish Water?"
Arnett: Well there isn't a question of contract. When a change such as this is applied as a matter of law, then there isn't a question of contract. That just doesn't come into it."
Pat Kenny, for some reason, interjected at this point and the two of them went on some hypothetical ramblings, on a topic where neither he nor Ms Arnett were experts. The question of Irish Water not respecting people's wishes, where householders clearly demonstrated this by a 'No Meter Sign' and not having or wanting a contract with Irish Water is very relevant and one which is very much at the heart of the controversy on water charges. For instance why is Irish Water so determined to get people to sign a contract with them? Is this not a contract? Why is it that Irish Water is forcing meters on people who do not want them? Irish Water, since it's formation under the Water Services Act 2003, along with the Government have done every conceivable thing, including bribes, threats and questionable data collection, to make householders sign up with Irish Water.
Pat Kenny had a great opportunity to do the people of this county a favour and delve into some of the meatier questions which the Government and Irish Water have not answered. Instead he demonstrated that his show is just entertainment, a make belief, giving the impression of impartiality. This was very much demonstrated by a question from Tim in Sandymount. He had to ask twice about where Irish Water was getting their data on householders. Even after the questioner ask for a second time saying that he felt his answer was not addressed, Elizabeth Arnett with the help of Pat Kenny was able to again sidestep the question, saying legislation, landlords, people phoning up and a variety of ways..
All in all, the interview is very interesting to listen to, especially to someone of a critical mind. It is interesting to hear how Pat Kenny and Ms Arnett perform. In between the subliminal messages of 'register', 'leaks', 'lead pipes' and '€100 euro grant', there were some interesting morsels. Sometimes it's in the small print, or a word here and a phrase there. Like Ms Arnett rubbishing Steven Donnelly, TD, figures in a question about whether the money Irish Water will recoup from customers will cover collection of that money. Or when Pat Kenny ask about how the meter detects leaks, is it volumetric or can it detect leaks down to the hour. Ms Arnett said actually we can record data down to the hour and we can reset meters to do various things. Isn't that interesting? Various things!
Arnett's Answers Not Acceptable
With the knowledge that approx 1000 meters have been illegally installed ( no notification, no notice of water being disconnected, vans with no logos, installing before 7.30am and abuse of residents ) from Muff, through Quigley's Pt through Redcastle through Moville through Greencastle and on to Gleneely, it is now past time that something was done about this state of affairs.
It is not acceptable to allow Irish Water to flout their own stated regulations and protocols and to allow them to ride roughshod over our residents and do nothing about it. They must not be allowed to abuse and threaten residents. We must bring them to book. We will hold Elizabeth Arnett to her word.
Survey Will Be Undertaken
On that basis Buncrana Together will now, with help other groups, carry out a detailed survey of the mentioned areas.
The results of this detailed survey will be presented to Irish Water, all elected representatives and An Garda Siochána. We will demand that the wrongs be rectified forthwith and to the residents satisfaction.
Elizabeth Arnett and Irish Water will be held to her promise of investigating the incidents. Irish Water have to be held to account for their actions. We have to ensure that the least they should do is to abide by their own regulations, treat the residents with respect, work within the law and deal swiftly with all abusive Irish Water personnel who have not done so.
Newstalk article http://www.newstalk.com/LISTEN:-Irish-Water-answer-your-questions