Kilkee’s beauty was referenced at a sitting of the Dáil on Wednesday as the Taoiseach confirmed he will intervene as the area was hit with a do not swim notice for the third year in succession.
On Saturday afternoon, Clare County Council on the advice of the HSE placed a prohibition on swimming in Kilkee “due to a malfunction of Irish Water sewage infrastructure”. This ban is to remain in place until further notice.
Irish Water have said they are working with the local authority to “repair two incidences of rising main bursts at Kilkee” carrying out repairs which is feared to have resulted in wastewater discharge at the beach.
Repairs plus the results of sampling from bathing waters are needed before the notice can be lifted. Notification of the incident has been circulated to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Deputy Cathal Crowe (FF) voiced his frustration that it was the third year in a row that a malfunction in the Irish Water sewage infrastructure has caused the beach to close to swimmers.
He criticised projected timelines from Irish Water which estimate it will take four years to install modern infrastructure. The Meelick native said the local community was “up in arms” over the ban and quality of the infrastructure.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin (FF) acknowledged that Kilkee was “a very popular and attractive location. Indeed many Corkonians spend their holidays in Kilkee”. He committed to intervening and pursuing the matter with Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien (FF). “Pumping raw sewerage into a coastal location like this is unacceptable”.
Calls for urgent action from Irish Water were also heard in the Seanad. Senator Timmy Dooley (FF) highlighted that the notice was issued at a time when people were encouraged to enjoy their holidays in Ireland.
He outlined, “Yet again the town of Kilkee finds itself with a no-swim imposition, no bathing in the bay at Kilkee for the third year in a row now. When you go back to 2018 and 2019, both the town and the area were promised that a plan was underway to improve the infrastructure, that this situation would not be allowed to continue but unfortunately it has.”
Dooley added, “There is nowhere more beautiful than Kilkee on a fine summer’s day. And so many people find an attraction there but there is little point in people going on their holidays to Kilkee if they can’t swim. Until such time as Irish Water come forward with a plan and a programme to upgrade the sewage infrastructure than I don’t think we should stop seeking action from Irish Water on their infrastructure”.
Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) has written to Irish Water asking that the matter be brought forward. “Once again Kilkee has been the victim of the abject failure of Irish Water to deliver, in any sort of a timely manner or even at all, security for the water quality in Kilkee Bay,” he commented.
Murphy continued, “The sea is what we have in Kilkee, it is fundamental to the economy of the town and wider west Clare areas. Anything that impacts negatively on the perception by the public of the quality of the sea-based experience has large scale consequences, both direct and immediate in the tills of the local business owners and their sustainability, and in the experience of those who live and visit the town”.