*The unprecedented fish kill occurred in May. 

INVESTIGATIONS ARE ONGOING following an unprecedented fish kill in North Clare.

Both Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Environment Protection Agency are carrying out separate investigations into the circumstances surrounding the death of up to 2,000 fish on the Ballymacraven River at the beginning of May.

On Friday, a public meeting was held at The Falls Hotel where the Restore Ballymacraven River Committee following a march from An Teach Cheoil to the square in Ennistymon.

Clare TDs, Michael McNamara (IND), Cathal Crowe (FF), Senator Martin Conway (FG), Senator Roisin Garvey (GP) were among the politicians present in the Falls Hotel where a private briefing was held with elected representatives prior to the public meeting.

Ruairí Ó Conchúir of the Local Authority Waters Programme chaired the public meeting and is one of the central figures involved in the Restore Ballymacraven Committee.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Senator Garvey was more optimistic that this investigation would take action. “I found out that there is an ongoing investigation with a lot of people being interviewed as to what happened, it is ongoing and I haven’t a timeline on when it will be concluded. A lot of people want to find out why it happened and that it won’t happen again including me and Minister Eamon Ryan”.

She continued, “This seems to be a very deep investigation rather than the usual waffle, it is getting more attention with the community protest and me bringing it up in the Seanad plus very wise people in Inland Fisheries Ireland, it is good that a thorough investigation is happening”.

Clare’s water quality is simply not good enough, the Inagh native stated. “I have raised water issues in the Seanad more than any other issue, we know there’s issues in our water supply. This fish kill was the worst thing to ever happen in the river, we know the beaches are closed again and Council signs are up about run off which we know isn’t the issue”.

An insufficient number of enforcement officers for the EPA is not aiding the issue, she stressed. “Looking at the recent EPA report, our water is poisoned and messed up. We only have 11 enforcement officers to cover the entire country which isn’t possible, we need 65 for all of them. The cycle continues. People don’t take turns poisoning rivers, people care and people don’t, if you don’t enforce laws people keep breaking them, that’s the simple maths”.

Senator Garvey was critical of the lack of focus by Clare County Council on the issue. “I brought it up at meeting with the CEO and the Director of Services in the Council and Pat Dowling refused to say anything on it, there was no ask from Council to get the river back. I’d expect they would ask us to help them seeing as we are the county’s representatives but they haven’t. Tourism is great, doing Holy Island is great and the Cliffs of Moher is great but we have to take care of our water”.

Ennistymon’s Denis Vaughan was among those to attend the public meeting on Friday. “The locals are up in arms over the poisoning of the river, the fish and the never-ending presence of trucks through the town of Ennistymon taking poisonous sludge from the wastewater treatment plant on the Kilfenora Rd,” he claimed. He said serious questions needed to be answered by both Irish Water and Clare County Council on the matter.

Vaughan said that he had a tense exchange with Senator Garvey at the meeting. “In my endeavours, I was constantly interrupted by Ms Garvey, I contested this and she was told by the Chairperson that I must get the opportunity to speak and she stalked out of the meeting”.

Garvey disputed this view. “He was asking the question and I was giving him an answer, I had to go anyway, Denis Vaughan loves a tête-à-tête but I wasn’t having any”.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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