Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Home News

Water chief criticised for missing committee probe

Northern Ireland Water was overwhelmed by more than a million contacts from the public at the height of the burst pipes crisis, a Stormont committee was told today.

Officials from the Government-owned company received 600,000 phone calls in three days at the height of the episode and was sent 10,000 emails, while its website was bombarded by half a million hits.

But Northern Ireland Water (NIW) chief executive Laurence MacKenzie, who resigned last night and officially leaves office tomorrow, was slammed for failing to meet the committee over his organisation's handling of the emergency.

Chairman of the Regional Development Committee Fred Cobain said Mr MacKenzie had a duty to account for his company's actions after Arctic weather conditions crippled the region's water supply system, and the public calls for help were mishandled.

"I have to say the committee is deeply disappointed that we don't have the chief executive here, who is still the chief executive of Northern Ireland Water," said Mr Cobain.

"He should have been here. This is a huge issue, not just for this committee and the Assembly, but for the thousands of people who have suffered. He has a responsibility to those people.

"As far as we are concerned he should have been and he is not."