Health risk warning over Limerick water supply boil notice

Fianna Fáil Councillor Kevin Sheahan.

THE boil notice affecting 7,000 consumers served by the Foynes/Shannon Estuary Public Water Supply poses a serious threat to people who are immunocompromised.

That was the warning from Fianna Fáil councillor Kevin Sheahan at last Monday’s meeting of Limerick City and County Council.

Cllr Sheahan explained how a family member had been advised by a medical consultant in Dublin not to use the water for showering due to the risks it could pose to their health.

The consultant said, according to Cllr Sheahan, that if one droplet of this water went up the family member’s nose while showering, they would be at “huge risk”, on account of being immunocompromised.

The Askeaton man was far from impressed with the response his family got from the HSE. He told council members that they received a letter advising that the water would be safe for showering if it was boiled first.

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Cllr Sheahan also took aim at Uisce Éireann, with whom he said he had numerous phone calls on the matter.

“All I got is gibberish – and if the press don’t know how to spell that, my version only has four letters,” he said.

“We need to kick politics to one side here and think of the people who elected us. This is a huge issue for cancer patients or for anyone who is immunocompromised.”

Cllr Sheahan went onto call for the disbandment of Uisce Éireann.

“Irish Water have said it could be December before this issue is rectified. What a statement to make. It is a shambles. We have finally seen that they are not fit to have their name on note paper. They are an absolute disgrace.”

At the start of this Monday’s meeting, Cllr Adam Teskey (FG) and Cllr Emmett O’Brien (Ind) left the chamber in protest when they were not allowed discuss the issue at the top of the meeting.

Cllr O’Brien described Mayor Francis Foley as a “disgrace” before leaving the chamber.

During the meeting, Fine Gael councillor Liam Galvin thanked the mayor for making time at the end of the meeting to discuss the issue and suggested that Cllr O’Brien not be allowed back into the chamber until he apologised for his behaviour.

Cathaoirleach of the Adare-Rathkeale District, Cllr Stephen Keary (FG), revealed that he was immunocompromised after receiving chemotherapy treatment in the recent past.

He believed the best forum to resolve the issues relating to the boil notice was at district level. He told council members that a special meeting has been convened for this Friday morning with members of the council executive and Uisce Éireann to tackle the problem.

Cllr John Sheahan (FG) took issue with the HSE’s response to Kevin Sheahan’s family and described it as “flippant”.

“It is just not good enough,” he added.

Director of Services Kieran Lehane insisted that they were working with the national water utility to resolve the issue, which he agreed has had “huge impact” in West Limerick.

The boil notice, which was issued earlier this month following consultation with the Health Service Executive (HSE), affects customers in Askeaton, Foynes, Ballyhahill, Loghill, Ballysteen, Pallaskenry, Kildimo, Shanagolden and surrounding areas.

All consumers affected by the notice must boil their water before drinking, preparing uncooked food, brushing teeth and making ice.