“To investigate any impropriety on the part of the officer and elected representatives”

The BBC reports details of the external inquiry to be held by Castlereagh Borough Council into the awarding of the lease for the Lock Keepers Inn to Kirk McCambley, and Iris Robinson’s involvement in that process. The report also states

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Mrs Robinson has resigned as an MP, MLA and councillor. The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly told the BBC that her decision would be formally announced to MLAs next Monday. Earlier on Tuesday, the Treasury announced that Mrs Robinson had formally announced her resignation as MP for Strangford. Her resignation from the council was announced by its acting chief executive. Mrs Robinson has applied for the Chiltern Hundreds, the system used by MPs who wish to resign.

More on Chiltern Hundreds here And also of interest is this news from the NI Audit Office [pdf file]

The local government auditor for Castlereagh Borough Council will issue a public interest report on matters covered by the Council’s investigation and the investigation itself. This report may also indicate wider lessons for local government.
The public interest report will be issued as soon as possible, dependent on progress of the Council’s investigation. Under local government legislation this report will be copied to the Department of Environment. The report and its findings must be considered by the Council within one month of its receipt.

From the BBC report


To identify if the council incurred any financial loss as a result of the award of the lease at the Lock-Keeper’s Inn

To investigate any impropriety on the part of the officer and elected representatives in the award of the lease at the Lock-Keeper’s Inn

To investigate whether officers and elected representatives complied with the requirements of all relevant local government legislation and guidance in the awarding of the above-mentioned lease

To make any recommendations to the Council, where necessary, arising from the findings of the investigation on how its processes and governance arrangements could be improved upon

Revise these terms, where necessary, arising from the findings of the investigation

, , ,

  • Pigeon Toes

    “Revise these terms, where necessary, arising from the findings of the investigation”

    That’s an interesting little clause…

    How much confidence would there be if the “external” Inquiry if the Terms Of Reference had stated?

    “provide assurance that:

    a all tenderers received equal treatment and there was no discrimination;
    b there was transparency about the decision-making process; and
    c there was no manifest error in the award of the contract. “

  • Drumlins Rock

    Always wanted to congraulate someone on their elevation to the stewartship of the Chiltern Hundreds, but it would not be fitting in this case due to the incumbents health, noticed that Peter once held the Stewartship of Northstead, for a matter of seconds probably, before it claimed by Martin Smyth, I wonder will any of his party colleagues be seeking that post too?

  • Greenflag

    Peter Robinson would not be the first NI politician to run for the Chiltern Hundreds . Here’s a list of the last batch of applicants for this medieval codswallop 🙂

    17 December 1985 Molyneaux, J H Chiltern Hundreds Con Antrim South
    17 December 1985 Paisley, Rev I R K Northstead UDUP Antrim North
    17 December 1985 Beggs, J R Chiltern Hundreds UU Antrim East
    17 December 1985 Forsyth, C Northstead UU Antrim South
    17 December 1985 McCusker, J H Chiltern Hundreds UU Armagh17 December 1985 Maginnis, K Northstead UU Fermanagh and S.Tyrone
    17 December 1985 Ross, W Chiltern Hundreds UU Londonderry
    17 December 1985 Robinson, P D Northstead UDUP Belfast East
    17 December 1985 Taylor, Rt Hon J D Chiltern Hundreds UU Strangford
    17 December 1985 Smyth, Rev W M Northstead UU Belfast South
    17 December 1985 Kilfedder, J A Chiltern Hundreds UPUP Down North
    17 December 1985 Walker, A C Northstead UU Belfast North
    17 December 1985 Nicholson, J F Chiltern Hundreds UU Newry & Armagh
    17 December 1985 Powell, Rt Hon J E Northstead UU Down South
    17 December 1985 McCrea, Rev Dr R Chiltern Hundreds UDUP Mid Ulster

    I can’t recall exactly why the Chiltern HUndreds were so popular on Dec 17 1985 ? Does anybody know ;)?

  • wild turkey

    I can’t recall exactly why the Chiltern HUndreds were so popular on Dec 17 1985 ? Does anybody know ;)?

    I have a vague memory that around that time Ulster said Yo, but the man from Delmonte said Yeah… o something along those lines

    PT at post one
    you hit the nail right on the head

  • As understand it, the two offices of nominal honour (the Chiltern Hundreds and the Manor of Northstead) alterate.

    Then one looks at a list of previous occupants of the Chiltern Hundreds and finds a quite remarkable (and disproportionate, I might suggest, even excluding the 1985 rush) of Irish MPs. Willie O’Shea (he of Kitty fame) and William O’Brien — the latter, four times!, both involved in the fall of Parnell, are there. So too is Lecky (of TCD’s chair of history, statue, and library), John Redmond’s son, William (who went on to be a TD), Tim Healy (who resigned in favour of a SF candidate and then became first “Governor-General” of the Free State).

    I notice that Profumo is also there, and one or two other names of “note”.

  • Greenflag

    Is’nt google a wonderful aide de memoire 🙂

    The reason for the Tuesday 17 December 1985 lemming like run to the Chiltern Hundreds was as explained below ‘

    ‘All 15 Unionist Members of Parliament (MPs) resigned their seats in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). Their intention was to highlight opposition to the Agreement in Northern Ireland during the by-elections that would be caused.’

    And now some of the ex Chilterns -doesn’t that sound like children ;)-noted above share power with SF . What was all that nonsense for eh ? Did it achieve anything bar a newspaper headline for a day and another decade and a half in the political wilderness ?

    Unionism is seemingly incapable of reform :(!

  • Greenflag @ 06:01 PM:

    Looking at the speed of other contributors, this will already be stale news.

    Those co-ordinated resignations in December 1985 were in response to the Commons vote on the Hillsborough Agreement, signed by Thatcher and Garret Fitzgerald a month before. The subsequent rally at Belfast City Hall was the occasion when Paisley did his “Mrs. Thatcher tells us that that Republic must have some say in our Province. We say never, never, never, never.”

  • Greenflag

    malcolm redfellow ,

    ‘I might suggest, even excluding the 1985 rush) a quite remarkable (and disproportionate, I might suggest of Irish MP’s

    Yes I noticed that too . There must be ‘story’ behind each .In my scan I missed Lecky wonder what that was about 😉

  • Greenflag

    malcolm ,

    ‘We say never, never, never, never.”

    Ah shure he did’nt really mean it now did he :)? . I mean in hindsight he was only trying to out unionist Jim Molyneaux . Oscar award winning stuff as usual from th’oul windbag hisself 😉

  • Pete, CBC on its website refers to the Initial Terms of Reference, a point not noted by the BBC.

    As always, it might be illuminating to see the names of the independent consultants.

  • Greenflag, why didn’t you google to start with? 🙂

  • Lecky died in 1903, Greenflag, so probably ill-health.

  • Greenflag @ 06:25 PM:

    Yeah, the Lecky thing got me going. What little study I ever did was under his name. As so often, Nevin @ 06:45 PM wins the cigar. The DNB gives him a good run, written by Joseph Spence, with this explanation:

    In the spring of 1901 an attack of influenza led to a weakening of Lecky’s heart, from which he did not entirely recover. (Indeed, he had never been robust and there are abundant references to ill health in his commonplace books.) In the autumn of 1902 he took a cure at Nauheim, Germany, and in December he resigned his seat in parliament.

    Lecky deserves credit for being not just a distinguished historian, but as a political thinker, an optimistic democrat. In the spirit of “unintended consequences”, he had a significant influence on the development of Irish nationalism. A Liberal Unionist, he was profoundly suspicious of Gladstone:

    He saw Gladstone as an honest man with a dishonest mind who, by skilful casuistry, could persuade himself that he was in the right, and then, his moral nature taking fire, act as if under a divine impulse. [Spence, DNB]

    Now, of which recent British PM does that remind me?

    Lecky was elected MP for Dublin University in Dec 1895, specifically siding with the landlords over the land issue. On the other hand, his maiden speech was on the Fenian prisoners; he urged Catholics to seek higher education (at TCD, of course); and backed Horace Plunkett’s co-operatives (he saw Plunkett as “the only constructive statesman in Ireland”: it was, admittedly, a small mutual admiration society).

    Where he made his biggest impact, though, was his demolition job on the 1801 Act of Union. We are still living through the consequenes of that.

  • … or even “consequences”.

    Now, on which thread do I raise general consciousness of an article in this week’s Economist, and already up on the website?

    It’s a competent, optimistic, but little more than workmanlike précis of both recent histories, Adamses and Robinsons:

    The shenanigans could not have been more lurid, but the peace process may nonetheless be edging forward

    … though Mr Robinson is not, perhaps, Belfast’s most popular politician, he is beyond doubt the ablest exponent of the Protestant and unionist cause. His departure from the political scene would be a real blow to the Belfast Assembly.

    Etc. etc.

    The thing winds up in a rosy glow:

    Talks on policing have been going on for months, and the British government, like Sinn Fein, has grown increasingly impatient over the Democratic Unionists’ failure to close the deal. The party now has a big reason to do so quickly: a Sinn Fein walkout from the talks could trigger Assembly elections, in which the DUP fears being punished by affronted Protestant voters. Signs are this week that the party may have got down to serious dealing.

    In that reflection, I suggest we’ve shown more light on the topic and done a better job here.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘why didn’t you google to start with? :)’

    I try to exercise what remaining memory cells I’ve got Nevin . At the last there were 47 🙁 As they say use it or lose it and I can’t afford to lose anymore otherwise I’ll be applying for membership of the UUP or even SF 🙁

  • Greenflag

    malcolm redfellow ,

    ‘ As so often, Nevin @ 06:45 PM wins the cigar. ‘

    In the words of a former American President I may be wrong but I believe like myself Nevin does not inhale .

    I thought Lecky was a Liberal Unionist and was for maintaining the union not demolishing it ? I’ve read up on the man and he seems to have been a first rate ‘thinker’ for his time. He was not enamoured of the growing demands for popular democracy of what he considered the extreme ideological/nationalist /republican kind .

    Presumably had there been more of his ilk earlier in Irish history the political separation might have been avoided ?

  • Greenflag @ 10:07 PM:

    You are, of course, as correct in matters respiratory as those political.

    However, let us not wish on the nineteenth century, at a time when the franchise and “power” were tightly restricted, twentieth-century mindsets.

    Take, for example, the first Home Rule Crisis of 1884-6. Lecky’s study of the run-up to the 1801 Act was frequently cited by Gladstone and the Parnellites. By then Lecky was contributing to the anti-Home Rule argument. This was because, being allied with the Ascendancy land-owning class, he conflated Home Rule with what he saw as the extremism of the Land League. He wrote a letter [6 Jan 1886] to The Times, that bulwark of opposition to Home Rule, arguing that individual liberty (by implication, property rights) was more important than representative institutions. Having just watched Sharma on Obama (Main Street versus Wall Street), the arguments don’t change much.

    To get the full flavour of Lecky, and how he set the tone for the development of unionist rhetoric, there’s this from a subsequent letter to The Times [5 May 1886]:

    I do not believe — and I do not think the people of Great Britain will believe — that the government of Ireland can be safely entrusted to the National League — to priests and Fenians and professional agitators supported by the votes of the ignorant peasantry, whose passions it has been for many years their main object to inflame.

    What emerged here, and more so in the years following, when unionism per se coalesced into a new movement, was a debate about what was meant by the “United Kingdom”. Salisbury codified this in December 1887:

    It is necessary that the generations, as they grow up, should believe that the consolidation [i.e. the union] is inevitable. It is necessary that they should have faith in the fibre and the resolution of the state that desires to weld them into a common whole.

    It is too easy to decry that as reactionary and undemocratic. On the other hand, it is part of the evolving concept of a “nation state” that was becoming general across Europe, a concept which many (including myself) now profoundly distrust.

    In essence, the conflict between the two sides was the one that devoured my student days: the individual versus the state. Parnellites, for example, were collectivists; Lecky, Dicey (we had him in a previous thread, as I recall) and the emergent unionists were arguing individual liberties. Curious how the perception of that balance has inverted over the last century and a bit. Therein, too, lies the peculiar NI issue. In the three Home Rule controversies (though, of course, they were not discrete events), Catholics saw themselves as an oppressed minority in the United Kingdom, but achieving a majority in Ireland with Home Rule. Irish Protestants, of course, saw themselves diminished into a powerless Irish minority. Even then, that didn’t make much sense to the non-Irish majority of the (then) UK.

    In the second Home Rule crisis of 1892-5, Lecky advanced pragmatic arguments. He distrusted Gladstone as a national leader (then, as now, trust in politicians was not a general ailment). He argued particularly on material grounds: was not a united economic unit more likely to prosper than a disunited one? If prosperity would be enhanced under the union and could so ameliorate grievances, why risk anything else?

    Let me return to Chamberlain for a conclusion here. The Home Rule issue transformed him from a radical, asserting the rights of the majority against the “establishment”, to a unionist Jingo, defending the rights of a minority in the status quo.

    A mad world, my masters.

  • “use it or lose it”

    Greenflag, IIRC you voted Progressive Democrat – when you could be bothered to vote 😉

  • Any news of the find upstanding team of independent investigators?

  • crazy fenian 32

    I hope they do,nt forget to ivestigate the developers for they where able to build on every blade of grass in castlereagh.

  • Davros

    There are quite a lot of mock Tudor houses in Carryduff. Strangely they seem to stop when it turns into the Borough of Lisburn. Go figure.

  • wild turkey

    ‘Any news of the find upstanding team of independent investigators? ‘

    hi nevin

    surely the council will put it out to tender and then select from a shortlist of those submissions which satisfy the initial criteria?

    …have i missed something? oopps!

  • Pigeon Toes

    “The report and its findings must be considered by the Council within one month of its receipt.”

    It would appear that this rule does not apply to the government department committees.

    Now that is odd.

  • Pigeon Toes

    During a tendering process it was discovered that the PQQ was not scored as published i.e the authority had decided to abandon any scoring, and to allow ALL the bidders through to the next stage.

    When this was brought to the attention of a SDLP MLA, he had this to say

    “I note that no bidder was ruled out at the pre-qualification stage, and hence no one can claim to have been disadvantaged”

    Apart obviously from the bidders who were then in a process with others who probably wouldn’t have met the requirements.

  • Framer

    There should be a by-election in Strangford, perhaps the last of the parliament, but I presume the DUP will try to stop the electorate being represented at Westminster.

    Given that Iris Robinson rarely attended the House of Commons, although ever available for radio interviews and servicing constituents’ needs, it might seem unnecessary.

    None the less, why should the Robinsons be allowed to continue stopping representative democracy?

  • Pigeon Toes


    “Council minutes showed that party colleague Gareth Robinson, Peter and Iris Robinson’s son, then called for an “in-depth investigation” into why the original date for the opening was not referred to the local authority’s central services committee, which may have spotted there was a clash.

    This led to the delay and a new opening date in May, which meant that MLAs could attend the launch”

    Now is it me or is that curious timing, given what has been stated about 1st/2nd March?

    Why was Gareth Robinson so annoyed about this change in date?

    Could they not have changed the date simply to the next day 1st April… On second thoughts maybe not

  • Greenflag


    ‘IIRC you voted Progressive Democrat – when you could be bothered to vote ;)’

    In retro they were the only party that was less enamoured of turning the country into a rentier’s paradise than others . At the time the official opposition was and in my view still remains non credible . I knew at the time that the party was going to poop but did not foresee the actual circumstances under which the house of cards would be brought down . There are huge lessons to be learned from what played out in the Wall St casino.

    Next time I’ll probably vote on the basis of ‘personality’ rather than party . None of the political leaders in any of the great democracies never mind the smaller ones, had an iota of what was about to happen to the world economy or if they did they kept their eyes covered , their ears plugged , their mouths shut and their rear ends bunged up ;(

    Of course we’ll muddle through to a new ‘paradigm ‘ eventually but at this point it’s a cloudy and indistinct blob on a far horizon.

  • If Castlereagh is only investigating the tendering, who is going to investigate if there is any evidence of a councillor “soliciting a gift as a member of a public body in accordance with the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889”?

    Over in England, a former chairman of Tendring Council has been arrested by the police under this act, leading to that council receiving a Private Eye Rotten Boroughs award.

    Too many councillors in Northern Ireland don’t see anything wrong in having close relationships with developers – something English councillors would not dare do.

  • Greenflag

    malcolm redfellow ,

    Thanks for that summation on Lecky’s contribution to our political history . I’m aware of the tendency of some commentators here on slugger to impugn 20th century values to earlier historical periods and I strive to avoid such tendencies . I believe I’m on record as having admitted that had I been a Unionist ‘businessman ‘ in the period 1918 through 1920 I too would have chosen to remain within the UK as being the safest bet for the economic future . To any Unionist -North or South the’Free State ‘ experiment would have looked like a very dodgy enterprise indeed . And so it was for a considerable period in it’s early history. It was only when the ‘old guard’ from the independence struggle passed on that the confidence was again raised to look beyond our self imposed ‘sinn feinism ‘ and that did’nt happen until the mid 1960’s under Sean Lemass.

    What you call the eternal struggle between the individual and the state is now of course compounded in these globalised , technically advanced and instant communication days, by the layering over this eternal question by corporate power -specifically multi national corporate power . How that will play out in the uncertain future ahead is a matter for future historians and present day pundits. At this point I confess to having thrown away my own ‘crystal ball’.

    Re some of your other points . I’m not sure if Catholics saw themselves as part of an ‘oppressed’ minority within the UK at that time . They had after all equal representation at Westminster and held the balance of power between Tories and Liberals . I believe it was more a case of being or perceiving themselves as an oppressed ‘majority’ within Ireland . Despite the equal political representation there was growing awareness that the country was not developing economically or a perception of such . Outside of a small area around Belfast the country remained mired in an agriculturally based economy which could not provide ‘livelihoods’ for an increasingly emergent catholic middle class . This economic perception was fueled by memories of the 1840’s and the near repeat of same in the 1870’s . The increased ‘national awareness’ movements which originated in europe in the mid 19th century were grafted on to the Irish root of disaffection from 1798 through the famine through the land league and then the cultural ‘uniqueness’ movement which ironically was seeded and cultivated by some Anglo Irish ‘romantics’. These ‘insurrectionists’ did not believe as Lecky did that the ‘Union’ was going to deliver ‘prosperity’ anytime soon . The Home Rule party believed that Ireland could somehow address it’s internal ‘economic ‘ issues while still remaining a part of the political union of the UK .

    It was somewhat ironic though not inevitable that the cadre of mainly Catholic politicians who emerged from the ‘independence ‘ struggle had few businessmen among their ranks and were mostly poets , dreamers , union men and some Anglo Irish relicts of the former Ascendancy .

    Lecky can probably have the last laugh. For when all is said and done was he not essentially correct as you quote him when he stated

    ‘ was not a united economic unit more likely to prosper than a disunited one? If prosperity would be enhanced under the union and could so ameliorate grievances, why risk anything else?’

    As perceptive an argument for the EU as I can think of ;)?. I think Lecky would have approved of the EU although from his perspective the creation of a European Economic Union would have seemed not just a remote possibility but not even a conceptual possibility .

  • “surely the council will put it out to tender”

    You missed the CBC press release link I posted earlier, Wild Turkey 🙂

    Press Statement 14 January 2010

    Further to the Council’s press statement on Friday 8 January 2010, the Council confirmed at the Special Meeting held last night, the terms of reference for the investigation.

    An independent external team of consultants has also been appointed to undertake the investigation, and furnish the Council with its independent findings.

    Attached is a copy of the initial Terms of Reference. Initial Terms of Reference

    The Council will not be making any further comments on this matter until such times as the investigation is concluded.

    There you are. Seems tendering was not an essential requisite. Perhaps the cost will not have been considered ‘significant’. They should be able to do it for less than £50,000 😉

  • “It would appear that this rule does not apply to the government department committees.”

    Is it possible that government committees are much less potent than district councils, Pigeon Toes? Indeed, are these committees an unnecessary expense?

  • Pigeon Toes

    You can just see what will happen in a few weeks/months time…

    Cue various MLA’s:

    “I accept the conclusion of the report. The investigation was a substantial one….I believe that the investigation was thorough and that I can trust its conclusions.
    There were indeed errors and these are presented in the report. But they were not such as to overturn the overall outcome. I believe that the contract was properly awarded.
    Now is the time to look to the future…Everyone should now pull together…
    I am very concerned about the errors in process that did occur….”

  • Pigeon Toes

    Probably as potent as your local council in Moyle.

  • PT, it’s possible that Stormont may have disappeared into oblivion before this report is published but the sleaze business in Northern Ireland will carry on regardless.

  • Pigeon Toes


    “BBC understands Castlereagh Council has asked consulting firm Deloitte to investigate allegations surrounding Iris Robinson and the Lock Keepers Inn.
    Details have not been formally declared, but the council is due to make an announcement shortly.
    The council is expected to declare that Deloitte will carry out the inquiry.”

  • Thanks, PT. I wondered if Deloitte has ever acted for CBC previously.

    CBC: All requirements with an estimated value of £12,000 or more are publicly advertised. The Council advertises its tender opportunities on this website, in the Belfast Telegraph and, where appropriate, in the Official Journal of the European Union.


  • Pigeon Toes

    Feck will there be an investigation into the investigation?

  • Pete, it seems the light cavalry has arrived late!! Wasn’t this a job for the, er, Local Government Auditor?