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Mallon hits back at Sinn Fein over ambulance claim

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Nichola Mallon, Infrastructure minister

Nichola Mallon, Infrastructure minister

PressEye

Sinead Ennis MLA

Sinead Ennis MLA

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Nichola Mallon, Infrastructure minister

A Stormont minister has called into question a Sinn Fein claim that a village was cordoned off to allow an ambulance to avoid deep potholes.

Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon contacted the PSNI after the allegation featured in Sunday Life to ask for their verification.

And after a few weeks, the SDLP politician was told police are unaware of any closure.

SF MLA Sinead Ennis referred to the alleged incident when she said police had to cordon off Milltown Street in the south Down village of Burren so an ambulance carrying a young child “could avoid the myriad potholes and sunken manhole covers”.

The South Down MLA added: “If I were the minister for infrastructure, I would be utterly ashamed to preside over such a situation.”

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Sinead Ennis MLA

Sinead Ennis MLA

Sinead Ennis MLA

In a subsequent statement, Mrs Mallon called these “unfair and inaccurate assertions”.

Now her department has added that its officials contacted the PSNI for clarification.

“Officials were advised that the PSNI was not aware of any closure of Milltown Street,” a spokesperson said.

Ms Ennis and Sinn Fein have not responded to requests from this newspaper to comment on the department’s statement concerning the police.

Meanwhile, there has been a further delay to ending a freeze on road repairs in four areas — Newry, Mourne and Down, Derry, Mid Ulster and Strabane — which has been ongoing since June.

An inquiry into the hold-up, being headed by a QC and a senior civil servant, had been expected to report before Christmas.

A statement said: “The majority of schemes that are currently on hold due to these contractual issues will be carried out as quickly as possible after the contract for the relevant area has been awarded.

“The first phase, which includes the majority of the areas that were impacted, is currently out to tender with an anticipated award in February. This is slightly later than originally planned due to the granting of an extension to the tender period.”

Following the internal report, Mrs Mallon intends making a statement to the Assembly ahead of the forthcoming election.

“The investigation which is being led by Ms Sarah Hannaford QC is well advanced,” a spokesperson added.


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