Belfast Telegraph

'Third World' Northern Ireland making global headlines

By Catherine Lynagh

Around the globe Northern Ireland is being compared to a Third World country and international news agencies are reporting fears of a looming “public health crisis” in the wake of the water disaster.

Since news broke that tens of thousands were without water, news outlets around the world have been reporting on the plight of Ulster’s citizens and businesses.

On Wednesday The New York Times reported “frustration and fear of disease mounted in Northern Ireland as 36,000 people remained without water, some for more than a week, after a deep freeze and a sudden thaw caused aging water pipes to burst”.

The report continued: “There was also substantial flooding in Northern Ireland, with some flood waters contaminated by sewage, raising public health concerns.”

The LA Times, Washington Times and Boston Globe are just some of the US newspapers which have carried the story.

Reuters USA said there were fears of a “public health crisis” as the “state water provider warned supplies would not return to normal for days, leaving tens of thousands of people without water”.

News channel CNN interviewed a mother who has had to bathe her son in the kitchen sink using bottled water.

“We are finding it very hard,” she told the global news channel.

The station also reported that the local economy could lose millions of pounds as a result of the crisis.

A Banbridge bar owner said on air: “We haven’t had water since Christmas day. The implication is we have had to be closed at the busiest time of the year.

“No water means no business.”

“The crisis signals an even more miserable beginning to 2011 for businesses,” the CNN reporter said.

With the news of Northern Ireland's water woes making headlines from New York to Sydney, there are fears that foreign investors may be put off by thoughts of a failing infrastructure.

Despite a deluge of negative Press, Invest NI believes there will not be a knock-on effect to the local economy.

A spokeswoman said: “According to updates issued by NI Water, all mains water supplies are likely to be restored next week.

“As this is an unprecedented situation resulting from extreme weather conditions, we do not expect it to have any impact on our ongoing efforts to secure inward investment.”

Belfast Telegraph


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