Vanessa Scanlon reports on the actions of GMC - SIERRA / Irish Water in Seaview Park last week

The behaviour of Sierra in the Sligo Area has so far been both inefficient and disrespectful to residents. Today a number of us visited the people of Seaview Park estate and what we walked in on could be likened to a warzone. Drilling, lorries, clouds of dust, gaudy orange plastic barriers inadequately covering holes where Sierra have ripped into the peoples’ footpaths at the entrances to their homes. 

We talked to the residents who seemed relieved to have someone to talk with about what was happening in their communities. There is anger present and people simply don’t know what their rights are or how to stop this and so as a result they feel they have no choice but to let the intimidating forces of Sierra invade their communitiesOne resident conveyed her irritations regarding her grandchildren having to stay inside due to bollards being shoddily left outside her house over the weekend. She rightly pointed out that these bollards surrounding the hole now inhabiting the entrance to her home were a health and safety risk and could cause a very serious accident. As a result children in many homes had to suspend their summer play time and stay indoors during heats of over 26 degrees during the weekend. One lady explained that she could not move her car for the entire weekend and while the hole that was occupying the entrance to her drive way is now covered up the soaring temperatures have meant that the tar is melting around her newly installed water meter and she still can’t move her car for fear of ruining her wheels and/or drive way. One of our group approached the employees of Sierra and got a cover for the residents water meter and finally she can move her car. Today is Tuesday the 17th of June and she has not moved her car since Friday the 13th of June. It is seems she felt that she didn’t feel comfortable to ask for this for herself and therefore she was denied the right to leave her home by Sierra.  

Concrete dust which was very present in Seaview Park today is a major health risk for pregnant women, children and those with pulmonary issues like bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. Unfairly this has not been taken into consideration by Sierra on top of the damage they are causing to residents’ properties and possessions due to the wet tar that is being left unattended. While chatting with the residents they also told us about their worries with regards the dirt that has been left on the street. This dirt has is being carried into their houses, destroying cars, wooden floors, windows etc. One of our group asked when there would be street cleaners coming to return the street to its original clean state. They told her Friday. This was simply outrageous that the street would be left in this condition for over a week. Soon after one member of the Sierra staff told us the street would be cleaned by tomorrow the 18th of June. We will see if the peoples’ windows, cars, floors etc will be cleaned up also but we recommend not holding your breath 

There is also a deep confusion over the unclear literature that has arrived through residents letterboxes. Two different sets of leaflets have been distributed in the area rather than disturbing one clearly worded pamphlet that would outline to residents how when and where Sierra will be embarking on their property and communities. On top of that these information leaflets have not been distributed to every house. Surely it’s a basic right that as residents they are entitled to some information. A lady told us she woke up at 6:30am to get ready for work on Friday morning and she saw a man in her front garden spraying paint. She did not know what was happening as she had received no notice about it and was going to ring the Gardaí because she didn’t know why there was a stranger carrying out bizarre activities in her front garden. She then seen what was happening to all her neighbours and assumed it must be the water meter installation.  

While we were simply looking at what water meter installation consists of one of Sierra’s employees ascended into a huge truck and proceeded to remove us from the meter by slowing moving his truck towards us. This is extremely threatening and intimidating behaviour and after seeing this attitude, the residents of the estate have every right to be scared to approach the workers to ask for simple things like the right to move their cars from their driveways.  

Noise pollution has been a disturbance to residents. Work was carried during the entire weekend which is traditionally a time of rest for people. Work went on owing to the fact that Sierra could only obtain tar to carry out their work on Saturday 14th of June. Sierra are entitled to work from 7:30 am to 7:30pm daily.   

While in the estate some of us witnessed what can only be described as very nearly a collision which was a result of Sierra’s huge vehicles taking over the whole road and ordinary drivers’ vision being impaired. Thankfully there were no accidents. 

In summary the people of Seaview Park have expressed their anger at water meters for a variety of reasons and these include, environmental issues, inconvenience, health and safety, lack of communication, road traffic, melting tar and concrete dust clouds, the lack of courtesy, the intimidating nature of the ordeal, kids being housebound. Some members of the estate have continued to stay strong and are not allowing Sierra to invade their lives. This invasion can be overcome on a local and national level if everyone works together on it.