Four star hotel for gas row tenants in Londonderry
A housing association is footing the bill for tenants to stay in a four-star hotel while work is carried out on their homes.
Residents living in Habinteg's Conar's Court in Londonderry have been disconnected from their gas supply since last May over safety issues.
Initially, they were told the work would take between six and eight weeks to be completed - but five months later it has yet to start.
With frustration levels at boiling point, the residents marched from Conar's Court to Habinteg's main office in Londonderry, where they staged an all-day sit-in until the chief executive agreed to meet them.
After 10 hours, the CEO, who travelled from Belfast, not only offered to install temporary measures, but also agreed to pay accommodation costs for any resident who wanted to stay in the City Hotel until this work was done.
Among those who took part in the protest is Robbie White - now resident in the City Hotel.
"We have been more than patient with Habinteg, who have been promising us the work on the gas supply to our homes would be brought up to a safe standard since May," he said.
"We made it clear to the staff in Derry that we were not there to intimidate them, nor did we have any issue with them, and they understood that.
"We also made it clear we would not leave until the CEO met with us, and they knew we were serious because we had air beds and provisions to last overnight with us.
"To be fair, the CEO did come from Belfast and our meeting continued until late into the evening.
"He promised to install geysers in our home so that we would have hot water in the kitchen and bathroom until the gas repair work is completed.
"In the meantime, he also offered to accommodate us in the City Hotel until the geysers were all installed.
"We left the meeting feeling at long last our plight has been heard and understood and we hope before the cold weather hits us we will all be back in our homes connected to a safe gas supply."
A spokesman for Habinteg said all available resources were going towards getting the problem sorted.