Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 25 January 2015

Sinn Fein minister Murphy urged to resign over water crisis

Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy is facing more calls to quit over the water leaks crisis
Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy is facing more calls to quit over the water leaks crisis
Northern Ireland Water chief executive Laurence MacKenzie
A Northern Ireland Water employee unloads bottled water supplied by the Scottish government in Belfast
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Mr Arthur Doran with property destroyed in his home after sewage had flooded through it on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Maurice Magill explains the problems residents like Mrs May Maye, are facing to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, after raw sewage had flooded through a terrace of homes on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Mrs May Maye's kitchen after raw sewage had flooded through her home on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Mrs Janet Doran, (left), and Mrs May Maye discuss their problems after sewage had flooded through their home on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Queueing up for water are these Coleraine residents at Captain Street were a five hundered year old fountain flows whole year round.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28/12/2010Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin KernoghanFamilies queueing for the last few crates of bottled water at NI Water in Ballymena today. NI Water in Ballymena ran out of bottled water after lunchtime today. The thaw is revealing an unprecedented number of burst water pipes.Thousands of homes and businesses in Northern Ireland are still without water on Tuesday.Northern Ireland Water has said it is dealing with interruptions to supplies across a number of areas as a result of the severe weather and ongoing thaw.An unprecedented number of leaks caused by the thaw have been putting "big pressure" on its systems.NI Water is giving out bottled water but there is growing criticism of the company's performance.
Cliodhna Maguire aged 6 from Belfast , takes a drink of water from a water tap at Olympia
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Mrs Janet Doran in tears as she talks to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, after raw sewage had flooded through her home on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Mrs Janet Doran breaks down in tears as she talks to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, after raw sewage had flooded through her home on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Bottles of water are filled up outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Water storage units have run out at Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10Kelly and Anne Marie Murphy fill up Bottles of water outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Tesco's in Yorkgate sells out of water due to the high demand with homes across North Belfast out of water Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Tesco's in Yorkgate sells out of water due to the high demand with homes across North Belfast out of water Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Padraic White Chairman of Northern Ireland Water pictured at yesterday's press conference at NI Water HQ in north Belfast with board members Kevin Steele (left) and Peter Bunting (right).
Car wash on Boucher Road in Belfast still operating despite the shortage of water.
Laurence MacKenzie, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Water at NI Water Westland House
Laurence MacKenzie, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Water at NI Water Westland House
Belfast Lord Mayor Pat Convery helps out with the delivery of fresh water
Belfast Lord Mayor Pat Convery, (centre), oversees delivery of fresh water supplies including bottled water just arrived from Scotland
Belfast Lord Mayor Pat Convery helps out with the delivery of fresh water supplies including bottled water just arrived from Scotland
A woman carries away a pack of bottles of Scottish water
Under pressure: Laurence MacKenzie, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Water at NI Water Westland House
A Northern Ireland Water employee unloads bottled water supplied by the Scottish government in Belfast
80-year-old Jack Lewis from the Shankill area of Belfast, who just arrived back from holidays to find he has no water, unpacked his suitcaseand packed it with water - Scottish bottled water being delivered to NI Water
Bottled water arrived for distribution at Belfast's Avoniel leisure centre. Sally Patton makes her way through the streets to bring fresh water to those who are unable to leave their homes
Barbra Telford gets her supply of fresh water
Richard McCook from Castlerock Co Londonderry is utilising his resources. Mr McCook has a natural spring on his land and is willing to transport 1000 litres of water anywhere in Northern Ireland for £200
Holmes without water: Eamonn fills his bottle
Retired MLA Mary Neilis from Derry whose tap water stopped on Christmas Eve
Voluntary community worker Robert McCartney collects bottles of Scottish water from Northern Ireland Water's Old West Land Road depot
Northern Ireland water crisis
NI Water's Chief Executive, Lawrence MacKenzie takes questions at their depot on the Old Westland Road in north Belfast
Voluntary community worker Robert McCartney collects bottles of Scottish water from Northern Ireland Water's Old West Land Road depot
12 year old Karl Barr from County Antrim loading his family car with the last few crates of bottled water at NI Water in Ballymena
A Northern Ireland Water employee with bottled water supplied by the Scottish government in Belfast
Lorries from Scotland, carrying 160,000 litres of bottled water, arrive at Larne harbour
Trevor Haslett, Director of Engineering, Padraic White (middle) Interim Chairman and Laurence MacKenzie, Chief Executive Officer (right) all from Northern Ireland Water speak to the media
People wait in line at Avoniel leisure centre in east Belfast with empty bottles to get drinking water December 29, 2010.
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Bottles of water are filled up outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Bottles of water are filled up outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10Kelly and Anne Marie Murphy fill up Bottles of water outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Bowsers are filled up outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out, They will be brought to 5 sites across Belfast so people can get water Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Bowsers are filled up outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out, They will be brought to 5 sites across Belfast so people can get water Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Water storage units have run out at Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Tempers flare as families queue for the last few crates of bottled water at NI Water in Ballymena
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28/12/2010Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin KernoghanFamilies queueing for the last few crates of bottled water at NI Water in Ballymena today. NI Water in Ballymena ran out of bottled water after lunchtime today. The thaw is revealing an unprecedented number of burst water pipes.Thousands of homes and businesses in Northern Ireland are still without water on Tuesday.Northern Ireland Water has said it is dealing with interruptions to supplies across a number of areas as a result of the severe weather and ongoing thaw.An unprecedented number of leaks caused by the thaw have been putting "big pressure" on its systems.NI Water is giving out bottled water but there is growing criticism of the company's performance.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28/12/2010Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin KernoghanFamilies queueing for the last few crates of bottled water at NI Water in Ballymena today. NI Water in Ballymena ran out of bottled water after lunchtime today. The thaw is revealing an unprecedented number of burst water pipes.Thousands of homes and businesses in Northern Ireland are still without water on Tuesday.Northern Ireland Water has said it is dealing with interruptions to supplies across a number of areas as a result of the severe weather and ongoing thaw.An unprecedented number of leaks caused by the thaw have been putting "big pressure" on its systems.NI Water is giving out bottled water but there is growing criticism of the company's performance.
©Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland 28th December 2010Northern Ireland water office in Portadown are giving away water to residents from the Armagh area who have been without for the last 24 hours..Stephanie Shaw from Armagh collects some water.Picture Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com

Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy faced new demands to quit today following a Christmas and New Year water crisis.



With Laurence MacKenzie, the chief executive of the water company at the centre of the fiasco, expected to step down as early as this afternoon, pressure mounted on Mr Murphy to go as well.

A meeting of the Northern Ireland Water (NIW) board in Belfast this afternoon is expected to discuss Mr MacKenzie's future as a £250,000-a-year boss following public outrage over his handling of the emergency which left up to 60,000 homes without water at various periods over the holiday.

Nationalists and unionists have called for Sinn Fein minister Mr Murphy's resignation.

SDLP Assembly member Conall McDevitt said: "Many will question now how long Minister Murphy's position that he is the only one who is blameless in the long line of disasters to hit his department and its agencies is really sustainable."

A spokesman for NIW said Mr MacKenzie, who has held the post since 2009, had "not tendered his resignation".

Environment Minister Edwin Poots said it was right that he should be considering his position but added that others in the organisation should also take the blame.

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses were left without water when Arctic weather around Christmas was followed by a swift thaw that ruptured pipes.

But NIW failed to cope with the public outcry for information and is accused of bungling efforts to help stricken families.

Ahead of Mr MacKenzie's impending resignation, a leading critic said the chief executive should first give a full account of the crisis to a Stormont scrutiny committee he is expected to address on Thursday.

Stormont Regional Development Committee member Mr McDevitt said Mr MacKenzie had a duty to be accountable to the committee.

"If he was to resign before Thursday, that would be a dereliction of his duty," he said.

The representative for the nationalist SDLP also said Mr Murphy had questions to answer, regardless of Mr MacKenzie's future.

"Many questions still remain unanswered about the role he and other individuals within NI Water, the Department of Regional Development and the Minister himself have played in this entire fiasco of the recent water crisis," he said.

"But Mr MacKenzie's resignation will not be the end of this matter.

"It is noticeable the minister has now presided over the departure of three NI Water chief executives, the dismissal of four board members and the suspension of his permanent secretary.

"Many will question now how long Minister Murphy's position that he is the only one who is blameless in the long line of disasters to hit his department and its agencies is really sustainable."

Sinn Fein has accused opponents of scoring political points over the crisis, but Mr McDevitt said Northern Ireland Water had been dogged by controversy under Mr Murphy.

The minister has promised an independent inquiry into NIW's performance, which First Minister Peter Robinson branded "shambolic".

Mr Murphy has said the terms of reference of the latest inquiry are close to being agreed and the review will not be barred from examining the performance of his department.

NIW is a Government-owned company and operates as a so-called arms-length body under the responsibility of the Regional Development department.

It has said it is closing down the final water leaks. Yesterday it reported that just over 100 properties were without water.

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