ONH threaten to kill water staff

By Ciara Quinn

By Ciara Quinn

c.quinn@belfastmediagroup.com

WORKERS doing essential water main upgrades in West Belfast have downed tools after threats to “blow them off the streets” by dissident republican group Óglaigh na hÉireann.

It is understood the threats were made to Farran Construction staff as they carried out work in the Glen Parade and Glen Crescent area on Tuesday afternoon. The water upgrade scheme has already been completed in a number of nearby areas, but work has now been halted by the threat at Glen Parade and Crescent.

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Caoimhín Mac Giolla Mhín told the Andersonstown News that he had been contacted by the contractor to say they had received a threat from a man claiming to be from ONH who claimed that the workers were installing water meters – something that NI Water bosses have been at pains to deny.

“This is an absolute disgrace. These people have no mandate and represent nobody,” said Cllr Mac Giolla Mhín.

“Whoever approached staff said if the contractor came back they’d be blown off the streets.”

 

Meters

Cllr MacGiolla Mhín hit out at those behind the threat and said the men carrying out the work on the local water supply system “are there to do a job, earn an honest day’s pay and then go home.”

He added: “These micro-organisations, in an futile attempt to make themselves relevant, are claiming the work is in some way connected to the installation of water meters.

“Just recently Chief Executive of NI Water Sara Venning held a presentation at the City Hall were she stated, after Sinn Féin had raised residents’ concerns about the issue, that no meters have been installed nor will NI Water be installing water meters in local homes.”

 

“Clearly these gangs making the threats don’t follow current affairs or the news, as they would know that the work is basically upgrading a dated water system and that Sinn Féin secured a political agreement to block water charges.”

Cllr Mac Giolla Mhín added that residents are keen to have the work completed as soon as possible and added: “That is what Sinn Féin will be pressing for.”

It is unclear when or if contractors will return to complete the work.

A source close to ONH confirmed to the Andersonstown News that the incident on Tuesday did take place.

“People did identify them-selves as ONH to staff to ask what they were doing.

“There are different views on what exactly is going on, we know water meter charges have been deferred to 2016. However, water boundary boxes are being installed in West and North Belfast which are just a twist and click away from connecting a water meter to a home.”

A spokesperson for NI Water said: “In the interests of health and safety NI Water has been forced to withdraw its contractors from the area following this serious threat.

“It should be emphasised the work being undertaken is ‘like for like’ work. The team’s remit is to replace the old or damaged infrastructure including the pipes and boundary boxes supplying our customers’ property. If the boundary boxes previously housed a meter, a new meter is installed, if there was not a meter present, a new meter is not installed.”

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