Gormley under fire for going 'missing in action'

Fiona Dillon, Caitlin McBride and Kevin Doyle

Environment Minister John Gormley has been accused of being "missing in action" during the current water crisis.

Opponents of the minister have criticised his lack of visibility during the crisis, which has seen emergency teams working around the clock to fix burst pipes.

Despite the ongoing water crisis, neither Mr Gormley nor a representative from the Department of the Environment was available to discuss the matter on the national airwaves this morning.

This is despite the fact that the water problems are now threatening thousands of jobs in the services sector. And while politicians in Northern Ireland met today at a special emergency meeting to co-ordinate their response to the crisis, our Minister for the Environment has remained silent.

Labour's spokesperson on the environment, Joanna Tuffy, said

today: "I think the Minister for Environment should be visible in all of this, he should be making statements.

"And I think the most important thing right now is in terms of communication, so that people know in advance when their water is going to be cut off, they know where they can get emergency supplies."

Ms Tuffy said the Government should be better prepared to cope with the water shortages -- because we had already experienced it earlier this year.

"I think more can be done, more can be done to anticipate this kind of problem. It happened in January of this year and it's happened again. We knew bad weather was coming."

Meanwhile, a Dublin TD has hit out at the lack of information being provided to the public at council level during the current water crisis.

Dublin South East TD Chris Andrews said: "There is no one answering the phones in the council even though there is literally a crisis going on. Nobody seems to know what is going on.


"Business people and older people are furious that they are calling up and being told that they (council staff) are off until January 4.

"I know I put it up Twitter and Facebook and information is on other websites but that's no use to a lot of people, especially older people who don't use the internet.

"Surely they could have got people in over the few days, not necessarily the bank holidays but right now. In terms of customer care, it's unbelievable."

See Analysis Page 14