Dirty, discoloured water in Cork—The price of creeping privatisation

By Councillor Brian McCarthy 

For the last 18 months, people in communities across Cork City have had to cope with dirty, discoloured water coming out of their taps, washing machines and showers. This is causing financial hardship, ruining of clothes and appliances and genuine fears about public health. This crisis started when Uisce Eireann gave control of the new Lee Road water works to a private company called Murphys Group and they used too much of a cleaning agent called sodium hydroxide, stripping decades worth of sediment from the inside of the old cast iron water pipes.

Uisce Eireann’s response to this crisis has been contemptible; they won’t engage with affected communities, they won’t test the discoloured water to determine if it poses a threat to people’s health and they’ve offered no long term solutions.

Organising a campaign  

Myself and Socialist Party TD Mick Barry have been campaigning on this, going door to door in affected communities, organising public meetings and calling protests. Uisce Eireann are coming under pressure already because since the campaign was launched they’ve announced some limited pipe upgrades in the city and set up a new taskforce. However, these concessions won’t be nearly enough to resolve the issue so we need a real people-power campaign to force action. 

In the short term the campaign is demanding testing of the discoloured water, meaningful engagement with affected communities and representation for water workers and householders on the task force. if we want a clean, reliable, safe source of water then we need to abolish Uisce Eireann and return water to the local authorities, with real democratic control by workers and communities. Uisce Eireann was set up as a vehicle for privatisation and the creeping privatisation already taking place has caused this crisis. 

Democratic control 

Ten years ago, we saw the biggest protest movement in a generation, a mass movement of the working class that dealt the government a historic defeat and beat the water charges. This is unfinished business though, until we abolish Uisce Eireann once and for all and bring water under democratic public control.

Previous Article

Class war in Britain – The Miners’ Strike, 1984-1985 

Next Article

Campaigning and pressure delivers: Tory-style Green Paper on disability “reform” scrapped

Related Posts