Belfast Telegraph

Let's hold the DRD to account

By David McNarry

Folks, enjoy the summer, because we are facing a winter of discontent when the expected winter services vanish. So what's the story?

Seemingly, alleviating misery and hardship over the winter period is not the department's priority.

It's a matter of "tough" signed off with a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders when it comes to public safety.

I, of course, relate to my encounter with senior DRD officials over Transport NI, Translink and NI Water "resilience" in responding to emergencies this coming winter.

Imagine my anger when their escape hatch was to use the worn-out, feeble and lamentable excuse "there is no money" currently available for keeping the roads clear, maintaining water supplies and running public transport in extreme weather.

No money, they say. DRD haven't got the £6m required to deliver winter services on a par with last year, which I recall pushed a resilient workforce to the limit.

Six million pounds is a small sum to find out of the departments' pot of £340m; £6m could easily be available had not this department squandered millions in mismanagement - a charge they were found guilty of only a few weeks ago by 67 votes to 13 in the Assembly.

It's £6m or bust; no water, no trains, or buses, and no safety on the roads.

I say this to the department: no amount of money is worth putting lives at risk for, so find it and then put it away for the winter.

I urge the public to bombard the top 12 DRD directors and chase them out of their cosy cocoon of officialdom into the real world.

I urge you to engage in challenging DRD over its reckless intention to put safety at risk this coming winter period.

After all is said and done, if this grandstanding for extra money is a fabricated piece of scaremongering, I can promise you this MLA will not be found wanting.

A winter of discontent will not be done in my name - nor should it be done in yours.

  • David McNarry MLA is leader of Ukip in Northern Ireland

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