“Northern Ireland Water will still be established, as planned, on 1 April”

Eamonn McCann, writing in the Sunday Business Post, deals swiftly with the previously identified shadow-boxing and points instead to the deep fractures the election result actually revealed. He sees more internal difficulties for the DUP than for SF in the weeks ahead but he also wants to know whether the parties intend to re-engage with the shadow-boxing, given that the contracts are signed, and that the GoCo is.. apparently.. go.. [added new link]From the SBP comment piece

Firstly the shadow-boxing deep fractures

Candidates seen as the most vigorous in advancing ‘‘our side’’ vis-a-vis ‘‘the other side’’ were well set for success. The British government played a role in promoting the outcome. Tony Blair and Peter Hain were repeatedly explicit that they envisaged Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness as First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

For New Labour, the delivery of mandates to the two parties to go into government together was the point of the election. The endorsement was something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And then to the weeks ahead.. and that GoCo..

While Republicans have been accused over the years of claiming an ‘‘apostolic’’ succession from revered founders and expressing their ideology in ‘‘theological’’ terms, they have never been as theological as that. The rumbling and recriminations about the ‘‘sellout’’ of cherished beliefs will continue to be more ominous and threatening within the DUP than within Sinn Fein. Whether the two parties, thus positioned, can buckle down to deal in businesslike fashion with the issues which a majority on both sides want resolved is questionable. They may have succeeded in finessing the water charges issue, as far as campaigning for votes was concerned. But on this – as on education, health, ‘‘reform’’ of the public sector and much else – now comes the hard part.

They and their voters may discover that, notwithstanding talk of ‘‘local elected representatives taking the decisions which affect local people’’, key decisions are – and, it is intended, will continue to be – taken by individual s and institutions who don’t present themselves for election to anyone.

Three days before a photographer recorded the historic Paisley/Adams picture, the chief executive of the NI Water Service, Katharine Bryan, wrote to senior members of staff urging them not to be confused by press reports.

‘‘Northern Ireland Water will still be established, as planned, on 1 April. NIW will be a government company outside of the Northern Ireland Civil Service . . . Planned changes in how we are regulated both economically and environmentally will continue.”

The thought that water privatisation the charges are designed to provide a revenue flow for the envisaged private company – might be affected or even reversed by an incoming executive clearly hadn’t occurred to Ms Bryan.

If a new executive is to make even a plausible show of delivering on the economic agenda its leaders were pressurised into outlining to the electorate, it will have to take on Ms Bryan and scores of other New Labour appointees to key economic agencies and boards who remain in place.

The best evidence of whether this will happen may be that no DUP or Sinn Fein spokesperson has yet told Ms Bryan to cool her neo-liberal ardour, that there’s a new management in town, with different ideas and an electoral mandate.


From the Notes in the DOE statement

By 2010, £614 million from Northern Ireland Water and Public Private Partnerships will be invested in our wastewater treatment and collection systems.