DAVID Gordon continues to expose the lack of accountability in Northern Ireland’s quangocracy and government agencies. Today, it was revealed how the Water Service hasn’t recovered a single penny of £100,000 in a dispute about overpayments to a pipelaying contractor – eight years after the event. Naturally, the whistleblower was treated shabbily, rather than the alleged fraudsters, and it seems clear to me that the Water Service is tip-toeing warily around the issue – rather than actually dealing with it – to avoid embarrassment and court proceedings.In a second report, Gordon reveals how an ex-NIO minister – the hapless John Spellar – ignored the Government’s own Code of Practice when appointing Belfast Port Commissioners.
Baroness Rennie Fritchie, the Commissioner for Public Appointments, reported: “One of the latter members was not selected on merit at the sifting stage and was not, therefore, invited for interview. However, after lobbying from an external source, the member was appointed by the Minister to one of the five vacancies.”
Yet, we are not told by the Government who the Commissioner is, and, despite failing the merit test, Minister Shaun Woodward expressed his full confidence in all the Harbour Commissioners.
And who exactly was the “external source” who lobbied for the applicant to the port authority anyway? Hey, you’re only paying the wages of the Commissioners, so don’t seriously expect to be told…