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The water outages in Louth and Meath are the biggest crisis Irish Water has faced, Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy said on Tuesday evening as he expressed “complete confidence” in its management.
The Minister apologised to the tens of thousands of people left without water for a fifth day but defended the Government’s response.
He said it only became clear on Sunday that last week’s burst pipe on the main water supply to Drogheda required “a national emergency response” when a third repair failed.
“I am very sorry for all of the people who have experienced these severe water shortages,” Mr Murphy said, hours after the Government called in the Army to deal with the water crisis in the northeast.
Up to 50,000 people in the Drogheda area and east Meath have been without water since the main supply pipeline taking water from the river Boyne to Staleen Water Treatment Plant burst on Thursday evening.
Local politicians dispute this figure and say that as many as 200,000 people are affected.
The Minister was confronted by two angry members of the public when he arrived to speak to reporters at a Drogheda housing estate last night.
Angela Quinn told Mr Murphy on the Stameen estate that her 89-year-old mother, who had a bad chest infection, had no power and water during the day. “This is absolutely a disgrace,” said.
Mr Murphy said it was hard to say how long it would take Irish Water to replace the damaged pipe. The company has said it is hoping to restore the supply by Thursday but that it would be the weekend before water supply would return to normal.