Northern Ireland

Water supply vandalised twice in one week in north Belfast

Young people playing with fire hydrant
Image caption NI Water said the vandalism must not be dismissed as "harmless fun by kids"

The water supply in part of north Belfast has been disrupted after vandals damaged fire hydrants in the area for a second time in seven days.

Northern Ireland Water (NIW) had to shut down five hydrants in the New Lodge and North Queen St areas on Saturday evening because of vandalism.

NIW received about 20 reports from residents who had lost water supply.

It appealed to the community and public representatives to stop children and young people from damaging hydrants.

'Unthinkable scenario'

"Some may see it as 'harmless fun' by kids," the company said in a statement.

"The reality is, as they play in the water, homes and businesses are suffering low water pressure or no water at all."

The firm added: "The whole community needs to help us put a stop to this behaviour before the unthinkable scenario occurs where a fire breaks out and there is no water for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service to deal with the fire."

Image caption It can be a struggle for crews to shut down vandalised fire hydrants

Last week, SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon told the BBC disruption to supply began on Sunday, 18 June.

She said it was "particularly hard" for elderly people and parents with young children "when there is no access to water to bath them".

At the time, Ms Mallon called on NI Water to find a "more robust way of securing the hydrants to prevent this abuse".

She asked: "Surely, in this day and age, there must be a way of securing them so they cannot be tampered with?"

However, NI Water replied it had used "vandal-proof" hydrant lids but insisted "if someone has the time and the resources, they can eventually break these open".

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