Birds 'trodding' through oil-polluted Newry canal as council lays blame

Standing beside Newry Canal on a bright Spring day, you can see how dark the water really is.

Birds, including herons, are lifting their poker-thin legs from black sludge on its banks attempting to make their way along.

This is due to an oil spill which happened three weeks ago, on 15 March, not too far away from the city centre.

Days after, authorities were onsite in a bid to start clearing up the mess that has been caused by what Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has called a 'deliberate' spill.

It has laid the blame of the spill taking place at business park, which sits adjacent to the canal.

Despite numerous attempts to contact 'Work In Newry' business park for a response to the allegation from the council, UTV is yet to receive a reply.

Structures at the site of where it's believed the oil entered from are now in place in a bid to curb any further damage to the canal.

John McCabe is a local environmentalist and has visited the site numerous times since the spill occurred.

He said: "There's herons there, there's water hens and basically they're trodding through the oil and God knows what pollution is going into their system and what damage it's doing to the environment and the wildlife."

Stormont's Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said that the Northern Ireland Environment Agency is now investigating.

"NIEA are continuing their investigation and are unable to comment further at this stage," a spokesperson said.

"The clean up operation is progressing well, with the contamination contained in a smaller area."DAERA added at this stage, it has found no evidence of dead animals in the canal.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.