Has the Department for Regional Development breached Purdah?

There is no doubt that with everybody (well, almost everybody) inside the same mandatory coalition, party advantage over your rivals is tougher than normal. Yesterday Eamon Ryan of the southern Greens announced that his party’s supporters should not feel obliged to support Fianna Fail candidates (not surprising when as Concubhar notes, even official FF Euro Candidates are becoming chló beag (or small print) Fianna Failers… But given the six week purdah on government announcements during the election campaign, Conall wonders if the Department for Regional Development have breached an important democratic convention…

  • Big Bird

    Should all announcements from the Assembly then be suspended until after the euro elections, and what message will that inactivity send to the electorate? Those that are critical of the lack of executive progress, are now calling for inaction and a defacto halt to govt.!!

    It also appears that govt. announcements have been made in recent days, in the UK, and other EU states.

    I suppose when you are looking for a way to spin a positive news story to suit ones own political partys election campaign, you gotta dig deep.

  • This has no impact on the work of government, nor does it prevent the executive from taking decisions or doing business, all it does it restrict publicity by government.

  • Expenses111

    The DSD have been making several big announcements recently. Is that a breach of Purdah?

  • Conall, you may well be right about the breach of Purdah.

    However, this good news may also be an antidote to some bad news for not just the DRD (and DFP) but also for the Scottish government and some companies it owns.

    Following a series of FOI requests, I’ve received some illuminating emails from the Scottish government’s Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL). Calmac operates the ferries whereas CMAL owns and leases out the ferries.

    A Scottish Ministry for Transport official assisted CMAL “.. to get colleagues in Northern Ireland (civil servants) .. to do all that they were supposed to do.” Not a ringing endorsement of local civil service competence.

    The SMT official was also involved in a process that should only have needed the attention of the ferry lessor and lessee.

    A member of CMAL has also made disparaging remarks about other lessees – they probably know who they are – and has confirmed that the lease of the Canna was not signed until the eleventh hour and the financial bond was not expected to be in place until about three weeks after the lessee was operating the ferry service.

    And then there’s the unexplained Plan B as well as the little publicised EU investigation the state subsidy of public transport in the absence of a Public Service Obligation for the Ballycastle-Rathlin ferry route. BTW, have you covered this in your blog?

  • Mick Fealty
  • Mick Fealty

    Nev, when I see some fire with that smoke I will blog it. I did, however, intend blogging the fact that the DRD grassed up the whistle blower to the company, sufficient that he lost his job with the company. That seems to me to be unnecessary and regressive.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Well it would make you wonder exactly what the relationship is between CMAL and the other lease holders.

    Erm dont they only lease boats to Calmac and Rathlin Island Ferry operator?

    Nevin you naughty man, if Calmac gets hold of those comments, I should think there could be a souring of that relationship!!!

  • PT, I can smell Scottish burning heather from the Kingdom of Moyle and I can imagine some very red faces up in Dormant 🙂

  • Pigeon Toes


    “unnecessary and regressive”, I think you may find that it was directly at odds with NICS code of conduct and the DPA Act.

    I understand that further action from the individual concerned is pending.

    There is also further evidence to support the individual’s initial disclosure, that risk assessments for vessels was not carried out prior to 01/07/08, when the new operator took over the route.

    Then there is the matter of that lovely report, which more or less named the individual concerned….

  • Expenses111


    I am not sure if your being serious or just smart.

  • PT, IIRC Fred Cobain and Declan O’Loan came in with all (pop not) guns blazing when the report was issued at the beginning of December 2008.

    They must have been firing blanks as the report hasn’t featured in the future work of the DRD and DFP committees or AFAIK in the pages of the Belfast Telegraph.

    “The man no longer works for the company.” were the words used by the Telegraph reporter. Where did that speedy release of information come from?

  • OOPs

    That should be … (pop not top) guns …

  • Pigeon Toes

    “A Big boy id it and ran away”.

    One assumes that speedy release of info came directly from DRD, as they “had done nothing wrong”.

    Remind you of anyone in “local government”?

  • “Conall wonders if the Department for Regional Development have breached an important democratic convention…”

    This ‘blogger’ wonders if the DRD pays lip service to democratic conventions. However, it will take time and patience to ‘smoke out’ some of their questionable activities, especially when MLAs and the media are unwilling and/or unable to do the ‘heavy lifting’.