Irish Republican Socialist Party spokesperson Christopher Donnelly has described the recent chronic water shortages, which have left up to 60,000 homes across the North without a running water supply, as ‘totally inexcusable’. Thousands of people have been left without any water for over a week now, with no end in sight.
The main cause of the shortage has been identified as burst pipes caused by the recent thaw, something that is reflective of a serious lack of investment in water infrastructure. Public sector slashing and the scandal that has plagued the government-owned NI Water have undoubtedly also played a role.
Mindful of the Assembly elections in May, Stormont politicians have been quick off the mark in their condemnation of both NI Water and their colleagues in the Assembly. Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has placed the blame vaguely at the door of NI Water, while the SDLP’s Conall McDevitt stated that: ‘the buck stops with the Sinn Fein Minister for Regional Development,’ (Conor Murphy).
IRSP activist Christopher Donnelly said:
“The problems behind this crisis go far beyond the technical aspects of water supply maintenance. Recently there have been calls for NI Water to reduce their budget by around 40%, in line with the public austerity measures being imposed by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition. Such cuts should not even be on the table, there has in fact been a serious lack of investment in water infrastructure in the North and the result of that is the crisis we are now seeing”
“The inability of NI Water to respond to any routine technical difficulties has been exacerbated by recent redundancies and further scandal that has dogged the company. What is clear here is that the austerity agenda of the Stormont Assembly, carried out in response to the crisis in capitalism both domestically and internationally, has led to the most basic services like running water being denied to thousands of families.”
“In this day and age it is absolutely incredible to see a situation whereby tens of thousands of people have to do without a water supply. The most vulnerable in our society, who have already struggled during a very cold winter, now have this to deal with this. The lack of water is certainly going to affect the elderly, disabled and sick the most. It is totally inexcusable. While the establishment parties engage in meaningless bickering, at the end of the day, through their puppet-parliament they will be enforcing the will of Westminster which will ensure no proper investment in public sector infrastructure is forthcoming. Stormont is simply failing ordinary people and this crisis is further evidence of that.”