Belfast Telegraph

MLAs hit out over water chaos

by Niamh Agnew

About 1,300 households in Dunmurry had their water supply cut off on Tuesday as NI Water continued to try to restore the service across the city.

The company re-iterated its appeal to customers to check their premises for any damage to pipes as there remains a significant problem with leakage.

As public anger seemed set to drive NI Water chief Laurence MacKenzie out of office, some residents, such as Kris Zoleskiewicz, who lives at Sunnyside Street with his wife Maggie and two-year-old daughter Nicole, were philosophical.

Their water went off on December 27 and stayed off for over a week. With no car, the family had to rely on a friend of a friend to bring them water from Mallusk. “This man is Irish and an older person. He was a real gentleman,” says Kris.

He thought some of the criticism of NI Water was harsh. |“It’s something special, having weather like this in this country. It’s just bad luck. We were really angry but in life, everything is possible.”

Meanwhile, local politicians found themselves taking direct action to help constituents with some, such as MLA Anna Lo organising water tanks to take supplies to sheltered housing developments at Benmore Court, Malton Fold and Elgin Cour.

Anna Lo said: “The crisis has been handled badly by NI Water. Elderly residents and those with disabilities have not received any support from authorities, however the support from neighbours is appreciated and much needed.’’

Ulster Unionist Assembly member Michael McGimpsey said: “Plans could have been put in place to prevent this and families being left with no water to wash, drink and take care of basic sanitation should not be occurring in 2010. He paid tribute to Belfast City Council for their endless work throughout the disruption.

Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey urged those with properties which may have been vacant over the holiday to check for burst pipes as many have gone unnoticed.

SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt accused the minister, Conor Murphy, of denying there was a crisis.

Belfast Telegraph


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