Arson of water service vans ‘very sinister’ – Noel Harrington TD

Cork County Council vehicles targeted in Bantry council depot fire, says Garda

One of the burned-out Cork County Council water service vans in the council yard in Bantry. Photograph: Tony McElhinney/Provision

One of the burned-out Cork County Council water service vans in the council yard in Bantry. Photograph: Tony McElhinney/Provision

 

Gardaí have begun an investigation after two water service vans belonging to Cork County Council were destroyed in an arson attack in Bantry, west Cork, at the weekend.

Gardaí believe the attack took place between midnight and 12.45am yesterday at the county council yard at Newtown in the town. They say whoever was responsible climbed over a locked gate to the yard before setting fire to the vans, which bore the signage Cork County Council Water Service.

Garda technical experts carried out a forensic examination of the vans and the scene.

According to a Garda source, the two water services vans were the only ones among a fleet of Cork County Council vehicles in the yard which were damaged in the arson attack.

“This seems a very targeted attack given there were several other vehicles in the yard but the only ones that were destroyed were the ones with the water services signage,” the source said.

A county council spokesman confirmed the attack. He said the county council like other local authorities had a service level agreement with Irish Water to carry out repairs on burst water pipes throughout Co Cork.

The staff and the vans would have been involved in this general repair work but were not involved in any meter installation, which is carried out by contractors hired by Irish Water.

“Very sinister”

Fine GaelNoel Harrington

“Most of the people who have a grievance against the water charges have protested in a legitimate and proper way, but this is a very sinister and worrying development,” he said.

“If somebody is willing to engage in a criminal act, causing criminal damage to council property, it makes you wonder what else are they willing to do and at what point do they say stop.”

Mr Harrington said the action was not only counter-productive for those wishing to protest against water charges, but also showed scant regard for the people and businesses of Bantry.

Underinvestment

“Leaks are almost a monthly occurrence in Bantry, resulting in the supply being knocked out or restricted to householders and businesses in the town – it really is a very serious problem.

“And then some idiot goes and does this,” Mr Harrington added. “Could you think of anything more stupid and dense to do when you have a problem with a supply system than to go and destroy the repair vehicles?

“All it does is hamper the Trojan work being done by county council operatives, men and women who are doing their level best to maintain a proper supply after years of underinvestment.”