What the Northern Ireland papers say

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Journalist Keith Baker takes a look at what is making the headlines in Wednesday's newspapers.

You can sense the anger and frustration from the headlines...

Who exactly is in charge of this mess....the Belfast Telegraph wonders.

Response to crisis not good enough...the Irish News.

Other headlines spell out the extent of the problem - Thousands left without water...bottled supplies running out...reservoirs drying up...even the Red Cross called in to help.

In a leader, the Telegraph says the water system has been neglected for years and this situation is now coming home to roost. But it says that instead of parties sniping at each other, it's time for the entire executive to show cohesion and steer us through this crisis.

In the same paper columnist Lindy McDowell says that over this bleak Christmas the corridors of Stormont weren't bustling with ministers and MLAs scurrying around as they supervised the rescue effort.

True, she says, Martin McGuinness and Conor Murphy did visit flooded homes in Lurgan but apart from PR advantage, she wonders, what was the point of that?

A headline on the front page of the Irish News asks - Why are we waiting?

With it is a picture of people queuing at Avoniel leisure centre in Belfast last night waiting for water supplies to be delivered by the Fire Service after Northern Ireland Water tankers didn't arrive.

The paper says the cracks in our water service are now all too apparent.

It says some government ministers have been honest in recognising the deficiencies. But it says the proof of their words will be in what measures are now put in place.

The News Letter says the public have been let down. Since the arctic conditions arrived, it says, there's been a distinct lack of cohesion in the government departments responsible for confronting the problem.

On the front page of the Mirror....a picture of a tearful Lurgan woman Janet Doran who had sewage flooding into her home.

Water disgrace...is one of the Mirror's headlines. The paper says it seems little was done to help us prepare for the current catastrophe.

In the Republic they're worrying about the situation as well. There are water restrictions and burst mains and the Irish Times speculates that restaurants, pubs and hotels could be without water for New Year's Eve.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland says a loss of water on such a busy night would be an absolute disaster.

Away from the water crisis for a moment, the Mail says a perfect storm of winter illness will batter the health service when GPs get back to business.

The headline says - Flu victims soaring, the vomiting bug spreading, more elderly people falling ill - how will our hospitals cope?

There's advice in the Daily Telegraph about how to beat a winter cold. The answer, it seems - keep a stiff upper lip.

A study shows that people who put on a brave face during adversity are better able to bounce back from illness.

Unfortunately, it says, this inner strength takes years to develop and can't be turned on overnight with the first sign of a sniffle.

Finally back to the water crisis - and several papers have the story of a wedding reception at a hotel in Portballintrae on Tuesday.

The News Letter reports that the event was saved from disaster when the owner went off and got bottled water for cooking. And the toilets were flushed by means of another source - buckets of sea water from the raging Atlantic.

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