Inishowen anti-water meter groups clash over water meter agreement

James Quigley and John Gildea, MBC Builders, with other anti-water charge representatives pictured at last week's meeting.
James Quigley and John Gildea, MBC Builders, with other anti-water charge representatives pictured at last week's meeting.

There was controversy and some confusion yesterday over an agreement made that water meters will not be installed at Inishowen properties which display signage refusing them.

Some Inishowen groups met with subcontractor John Gildea of MBC Builders on Thursday and reached what they termed a “ground breaking” agreement on water meter installation in the peninsula.

It was agreed that no work will be carried out on properties on which there is a sign erected stating they do not want a water meter, that no-one from the company will “coax” homeowners to change their minds, that a local campaigner will be contacted at least the night before work is due to take place and that the works will take place between 7.30am-7.30pm Monday-Friday and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.

It was confirmed yesterday that the agreement is between MBC Builders and the group and is not made on behalf of GMC Sierra or Irish Water.

Any future subcontractor which is not party to the agreement could not recognise it and will install meters.

There was confusion when Mr Gildea said the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ was made on a ‘first time only’ basis but following further consultation with the groups he confirmed they will recognise the signs “now and in the future.”

The agreement has angered a number of other anti-water meter groups in the peninsula, who said those who made it did not have a mandate to do so.

Right2Water Donegal and Inishowen Against Water Charges said they too were invited to the meeting but felt that before they did do, “it was only right to begin a consultative process with the people of Inishowen. This consultation is still ongoing.”

They added: “The hard pressed householders of Inishowen must always be taken into consideration.

“People have a right to at least be asked for their view before any agreement is entered into.”

The groups said the agreement was “effectively giving licence for metering to restart in the county.”

Mr Quigley said their groups will soon clarify, via their webpage, the media and public meetings, a number of issues in relation to the agreement.

He said they were aware another subcontractor could install meters at properties and this would be something they would “oppose” if and when that time comes.

He added that it was an agreement based on mutual trust and as it had already been proven a success in Moneymore and Cork and other parts of Donegal it showed there could “a civilised solution to a difficult problem.”