Staff find faeces in Irish Water post

Material found at outsourced firm in returned application pack

Gardaí have launched an investigation after staff processing Irish Water application packs got a letter smeared in what’s believed to have been human excrement.

The incident at outsourcing firm Abtran’s office complex in Mahon, Cork, occurred on Wednesday.

A staff member noticed the offensive material inside but did not come in to direct physical contact with the faeces. The worker immediately alerted Abtran’s own security staff and senior management.

The company’s security protocols kicked in and the pack was isolated, catalogued and photographed for evidential purposes.

While it is understood that the envelope did not contain any identifying features, such as a name or address, gardai said they are following a “certain line of enquiry”.

In a statement yesterday, Abtran confirmed the incident had occurred and said the item was inspected by its own security personnel before the matter was reported to gardai yesterday morning.

“Abtran confirms that all necessary security protocols are in place for mails received including provisions for the health, safety and welfare of staff on an ongoing basis. This is an isolated occurrence and Abtran does not wish to comment further on this subject,” the company said.

It was incorrectly reported elsewhere yesterday that two Abtran staff were hospitalised out of the incident.

The Irish Examiner has established that another staff member, who was completely unconnected to the postal incident, fainted for unrelated reasons elsewhere in the company’s office at around the same time.

An ambulance was called for this staff member as a precaution but stood down a short time later.

Abtran also denied reports that its staff dealing with Irish Water packs had received other offensive items in the post such as razor blades and tampons.

Supt Barry McPolin said detectives have taken statements from Abtran about the incident, have taken possession of the offending material, and are now investigating whether an offence may have been committed under Section 55 of the Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Act 2011 which prohibits the sending of offensive material through the post.

Meanwhile, Irish Water confirmed that it has circulated application packs to some two 2 million homes.

More than 870,000 packs have been returned, all of which have been opened with about two thirds processed.

“In line with expectations, 77.5% of processed applications have confirmed they are a customer of Irish Water, the remaining are not Irish Water customers because they do not have public water services connected to their property,” the company said.

About 100,000 packs have been returned due to insufficient addresses and about 2% of people have indicated they do not want to become customers of Irish Water. The processing of packs will continue until the extended deadline of February 2 next.

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