Emergency phone line service "a disaster" - Mayor

The failure of the Donegal County Council's emergency water crisis phone line to handle the volume of calls has been branded an "out and out disaster" by the County Mayor.

The failure of the Donegal County Council's emergency water crisis phone line to handle the volume of calls has been branded an "out and out disaster" by the County Mayor.

Mayor Cllr. Cora Harvey's comments come as hundreds of homes are having to face water restrictions. The county's supplies have rapidly diminished with thousands of burst pipes reported following the thaw out from the recent cold snap.

Mayor Harvey says she has been inundated with calls from people who have been unable to get through to the emergency number to report water leaks.

She says the same issue was raised with senior Council management last year but nothing has been done to improve the situation.

"We brought it up last year because of the number of complaints. The manager (Michael McLoone) and Seamus Neely, who was there as well at the time as director of service, and every councillor voiced their concern and dissatisfaction with it. Nothing was done with it," Mayor Harvey told the Donegal Democrat.

She said if the call centre, believed to be operated from outside the county, was working correctly then it should easily be able to handle the volume of calls.

She said she can understands people's frustration with the system and described the failure for callers to get a response as "a joke".

She said after the Christmas holidays end this week, the situation will revert to calls being answered by Donegal County Council staff.

She added the situation of burst pipes causing water shortages is a serious one and she had heard of eight flooded houses in one estate in Convoy alone.

Across the county, temperatures continue to rise after the Arctic conditions over the last two weeks.

They reached eleven degrees in parts of the county as the thaw continues resulting in a large amount of undetected burst pipes wasting thousands of gallons of water. This has led to the night-time water restrictions across the county.

Road conditions are also deteriorating in the thaw with many potholes springing up and motorists have been advised to be vigilant.

James Boyle of Donegal County Council Roads maintenance division said they are repairing the worst affected areas first but more potholes are expected as the deep levels of freezing on the roads may not have thawed out yet.