Northern Ireland

NI Water workers threatened again in Belfast:

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Media captionNorthern Ireland Water said the threats were "unwarranted, unprovoked and unnecessary"

A north Belfast assembly member has said that Northern Ireland Water workers have been threatened for a second time in 24 hours.

The company said earlier it had to withdraw one of its contractors in west Belfast after they were threatened.

Sinn Féin's Carál Ní Chuilín said workmen were threatened again on Wednesday, this time in Rosapenna Street in the north of the city.

She said the threats should be lifted immediately.

"The contractor in this case has been working with the local community to minimise disruption during work to improve water pressure and the quality of the water supply," she said.

"This work is part of a much-needed investment in the water infrastructure.

"NI Water has made it crystal clear that this work isn't about installing water meters.

"The workers involved should be allowed to get on with their work to improve the area's water system and do so free of threats and intimidation."

'Unwarranted, unprovoked and unnecessary'

Earlier on Wednesday, Northern Ireland Water said it had to halt work on a £10m watermains scheme in west Belfast after one of its contractors received death threats.

The firm said workmen carrying out an upgrade to watermains in Glen Crescent were told to leave the site on Tuesday or they would be blown up.

A spokesman said they had been forced to withdraw the workers.

He condemned the threats as "unwarranted, unprovoked and unnecessary".

"Any misconception or misreporting that our work is linked to forthcoming water charges puts our workers and their equipment at risk of serious harm," he said.

"We do not want a situation where the local community will suffer because of the mindless destruction and misinformed actions of a few.

"NI Water would ask all political and community representatives to unite with us in ensuring the safety of our staff and their equipment while they carry out this vital work."

The police said they had spoken to the contractors on Tuesday.

SDLP councillor Tim Attwood condemned what he called "thuggish intimidation".

He said Northern Ireland Water staff were left "shaken and distressed after masked men approached them and issued cavalier threats".

"No one should feel harassed or intimidated in this city.

"I understand that there are concerns within communities across the city, and across the north, that water charges are imminent.

"NI Water have confirmed that this is not the case and the work that they are carrying out is in no way related to water meters."