Sinn Féin South Down MP Chris Hazzard has said that NI Water’s “feeble” response to the illegal erection of flags and vandalism on their site in Rathfriland over the Twelfth is contributing towards increased community tensions in the local area.
The South Down MP has been in communication with NIWater management this week following a number of calls to his constituency office from local residents angry that such a blatant criminal act could go unchecked in a public facility.
Mr Hazzard said: “It has been a week now since the NI Water Tower in Rathfriland was illegally entered and flags and graffiti erected.
“The fact that NIWater has not removed these flags and graffiti is an abdication of their responsibility. As a public body they have a duty to ensure a neutral workplace, so they must act immediately to rectify this situation.
“I will also be raising some serious concerns with NIWater senior management next week in relation to the inadequate response to these actions – including a failure to relay accurate information to the public when questions were first asked this week.
“It is also a major cause for concern that a sophisticated alarm system has been installed at this facility but was not connected to the main network last week when this incident occurred.”
“NI Water can confirm a break-in occurred at Rathfriland Tower and flags were erected without permission. It is believed the outer wall was scaled and the strengthened lock to the tower’s inner steel access door was cut open.
“Specialist equipment would have been required to carry out this activity. NI Water is liaising with the PSNI. Repairs to the door have taken place and we are organising the safe removal of the flags. NI Water is willing to engage with local political and community representatives in relation to this issue.”