A Fermanagh resident who has been forced to go to the toilet in plastic bags for almost six months due to a drainage issue at her home feels “abandoned” by the Housing Executive.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, claims her toilet stopped working in her home outside Enniskillen back in January and as a result she was forced to use a neighbour’s facilities. However, due to the Covid-19 outbreak she is now having to fill plastic bags up to three times a day – despite raising the drainage issue, she claims, with both the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Northern Ireland Water on several occasions.

“The toilet was blocked up; I couldn’t get it flushed. I had to stick a mop down for it to get away. The maintenance team came out and put a camera down the drain and found that it was blocked.

“I couldn’t use the toilet, so I had to use my friend’s toilet, now I have to go in a bag. I do not even like telling anyone that. I am embarrassed by even saying that. I put the bags in a bin away from my premises, up a bit from the back gate,” she said.

The woman, who considers herself a vulnerable person, claims to have raised the issue with the relevant agencies. A second person, a close friend of hers, has also told this newspaper that she too has been submitting complaints and Rosemary Barton, Ulster Unionist MLA, also lodged a complained back in March.

The resident continued: “I have shown them pictures of the problem. They have been out to look at it but they went away again. The whole thing makes me feel dirty, you don’t feel clean when you do that.

“I have to go about three times a day. I have to go the other way too; it’s not very nice to talk about it. I buy a lot of kitchen paper and bleach, I put loads of bleach down.

“Even the shower is blocked as well, and it has affected the washing machine too; it’s not ringing out the clothes at all so my clothes aren’t even being cleaned,” she said.

She also claims that her lawn is now “covered in sludge” as a result of the issue and recently her two dogs made the innocent mistake of running through it after it had started to rain.

“I am worried about my health and the health of my dogs too. The sludge they ran through was green and gooey.

“It has been awful, it has been really, really bad. I am a quiet person but it Is annoying at times.

“I am annoyed at them [those responsible for the property] for doing nothing about it.

“I have been abandoned in the middle of a pandemic and there is nobody here to help me which is why I am speaking out now,” she said.

Shortly after this newspaper submitted questions to the Housing Executive the resident was contacted by telephone by the organisation who informed her that they would seek to fix the problem. Yesterday (Wednesday) she says the Housing Executive told her that if they couldn’t fix the problem in the short-term they would supply her with “a plastic toilet for outside”.

A Housing Executive spokeswoman told this newspaper yesterday: “We apologise to our tenant for the delay in resolving this issue.

“Contractors are currently on site and we hope to have this matter resolved quickly.

“We were only made aware of the absence of toilet facilities at this property yesterday. In light of this, we are offering our tenant temporary accommodation.

“Work at this property has been ongoing for several months. This has included clearing wastewater pipes; the removal and replacement of gully covers and CCTV inspections to drains - we are currently awaiting the findings of these inspections.

“Unfortunately, due to Covid 19 restrictions, we have been unable to access the property recently to carry out further assessments.”

While the Housing Executive claimed it had only just been informed of the absence of “toilet facilities”, the resident, her friend and Mrs. Barton, local MLA, would say otherwise. This newspaper has also seen the original complaint that was made by the latter on March 25.

In a statement, Mrs. Barton said: “At the end of March my office was contacted on her behalf to explain the situation. I found it astonishing that this lady was left in such a situation and having to use a neighbour's facilities prior to Covid, then not having that option when visiting restrictions were introduced.

“I immediately contacted the NIHE by email and asked for urgent attention to the matter. It would suggest there are serious failings by NIHE in the provision of reasonable maintenance for the service they should deliver,” she said.