Residents kept in dark for over a month after street lights fail
Residents in east Belfast left in darkness for over a month have questioned why it took so long to repair their street lights.
Castle Karia Manor is a short distance from the Stormont estate, where the defective lighting was first reported in September.
Green Party councillor Anthony Flynn posted a picture online of himself standing in the darkened residential area earlier this week.
"While I'm happy that the issue has now been resolved, questions will still need to be raised with the department over why residents were left without street lights for over a month, putting their safety at risk - particularly those young and elderly," he said.
A Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said: "Street lights at Castle Karia Manor were repaired on Tuesday, October 22, and are now operational.
"The department continues to face budget challenges and resources are not available to provide for a full street lighting repair service. Due to the restricted service outages may take longer than usual to be repaired, with priority given to hazardous defects."
Mr Flynn called this "absolutely unacceptable" and said there was no question residents had been put at risk.
"I had been speaking to some of the more elderly residents and they said they couldn't go out after 7pm as they just couldn't make their way around the streets," he said.
"That's older people kept within their own homes on a hill beside Stormont in the pitch black because the department couldn't get the street lights fixed.
"It's good they have now been repaired but they shouldn't have been put in that situation in the first place."
After spending over an hour in the area, he said navigating from door to door using only the light of his phone had been disorientating. "I was tripping over kerb stones. If someone did fall over and get seriously injured, would it have been repaired more quickly? The department would also have to pay out if there was a claim," he said.
"They say it's about the areas of greatest need but, in my opinion, that's where it was."
The DfI has urged the public to assist by using an online reporting facility for street lighting problems at www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/report-street-light-fault.