NEW ROW IN WAKE OF WATER CRISIS

A SINN Fein councillor in Moyle has denied the party gained special access to colleague Conor Murphy, Department of Regional Development Minister, to get their hands on bottled water which they distributed around doors during the water crisis, writes Nevin Farrell.

Cllr Oliver McMullan was speaking at a meeting of Moyle Council in reply to remarks by Cllr Madeline Black (SDLP).

Cllr Black said whilst many councillors had trouble getting in touch with NI Water at the start of the burst pipes crisis, Sinn Fein "obviously got through because of the Minister".

But Cllr McMullan immediately hit back saying it was not because of the Minister but "because we put ourselves out to get the phone numbers."

Cllr Black said she thought it would have been the "Christian thing to do" to share information with other councillors.

Cllr McMullan added: "The Minister did not show any preferential treatment to Sinn Fein".

He said Sinn Fein members delivered water around doors to 11.30 at night and he said if anybody had rang him he could have passed the numbers on.

Cllr McMullan said he passed on the information to Moyle Council.

Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane referred to the recent "water debacle" and said Moyle Council's actions were very welcome although in hindsight it could have been done faster but she said that was down to the lack of information from NI Water.

She said the Council set up tap facilities and made facilities available but she said an Action Plan for such emergencies now needs to be put on the Council's website.

She said people in Moyle did not know where to go to access water and said some residents of Moyarget went to Ballymena to get water.

Independent councillor Seamus Blaney said the "whole thing was a fiasco".

Ulster Unionist councillor Helen Harding said such a situation should not have occurred in this "day and age".

She said another issue was the lack of grit on rural roads and said many elderly people and families with young children could not get out of their homes.

Returning to the water situation, Independent councillor Padraig McShane said NI Water "failed miserably" and he said some people were without running water in their homes for 12 days.

Ulster Unionist councillor Willie Graham said: "When we got the Helpline for councillors that was a great addition but at the first it was a complete shambles."