Chronology of a FOI request into Rathin ferry contract…

If want to do any digging into government, then the whatdotheyknow.com site is worth a visit before making any requests just to see what’s already been asked for and what’s been rejected, and what’s overdue… Nevin’s been there and dumped an interesting correspondence with the Office of Government Commerce over the Rathlin ferry contract…

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  • Pigeon Toes

    Mick,
    That’s not the only interesting recent correspondence in recent days. Emails between DFP and DRD show that DFP had serious concerns about the transparency and integrity of the process http://www.scribd.com/doc/28572565/CPD-DRD-Exchange-of-E-mails-in-October-2007-Concerning-First-Rathlin-Ferry-Tender

    This series of emails had not been released under previous FOI requests to DRD, and it is unclear whether this material was made availbale to the Independent investigators.

    If this has been deliberately witheld or concealed, it will give DRD a problem under section77 of the FOI act, i.e a criminal offence.

    Otherwise it is a very “convenient” oversight/ error of judgement.

    Smoking Gun?

  • Neil

    Fair play till ye Nevin, I would have given up after a while. I assume that’s the general idea.

  • Pigeon Toes

    I understand that a complaint on the section 77 issue has already been made to the Information Commissioner.

  • joeCanuck

    Indeed, Neil. They run special courses for the CSers – DATTO; delay and tire them out.

  • Mick, the Office of Government Commerce seems keen to assist but one of the other parties is dragging its feet.

    We also have the interesting position now of the Central Procurement Directorate apparently breaking ranks and placing the Department for Regional Development in a precarious position through the latter’s withholding of requested information. AS PT points out it’s a criminal offence to deliberately withhold or conceal information to prevent disclosure. It’s my understanding that DRD was not facilitating the release of these emails as recently as March 23, 2010.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “Indeed, Neil. They run special courses for the CSers – DATTO; delay and tire them out.”

    I’m guessing they weren’t counting on the tenacity of the likes of Nevin.

  • Neil, we’ve had some wonderful support from across these islands. If I can rework a little bit of W B Yeats, “And I shall have some truth there, for truth comes dropping slow”. Just think of all those folks out there who have been denied truth.

  • joeCanuck

    Nevin,
    We know roughly where you live and your devotion to that part of the world. You’ve long shown an interest in Rathlin. I’m curious; do you have family history there? I’ve no problem with you telling me to mind my own business.

  • Joe, I had no Rathlin connections until I started publishing those stories on NALIL blog. My first visit to the island was about a year ago.

    A friend from the Causeway Coast, who was familiar with my witterings about the Giants Causeway Visitor Centre and related ‘I know of him’ material, drew my attention to certain peculiarities about the procurement process for the Rathlin ferry service. That was back about May 2008. It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride since then.

    I’ve got very reliable sources across the UK and Ireland and, in a sense, I’m merely providing an outlet for their voices.

    Officialdom has access to lots of taxpayers money so that makes it very difficult to find out what’s been going on. Some of my other stories have created an impact almost immediately and have ’empowered’ those who might easily have given up hope in the face of traditional authority.

  • joeCanuck

    Thanks, Nevin. I find your “witterings” interesting.

  • “dumped an interesting correspondence”

    Mick, it’s more of an online ‘conversation’. I put up an FoI query, hopefully to the correct authority, and await a response.

    WDTK.com lets me know when a reply has been posted or if a reply is overdue. It also provides an opportunity for a follow-up query and ascertains my satisfaction with the response(s) provided.

    Some authorities are more helpful than others but all are courteous. Some of my friends have received abusive refusals when they submitted FoI queries privately so WDTK.com is a great advance.

  • Pigeon Toes

    And some of those public authorities have taken an interesting “about turn” this week in attitude following email intervention from the Permanent Secretary who is apparently on annual leave at present.

    Will the “Boys in Blue” be knocking on their doors soon?

  • Joe, here’s a recent one for your delectation. The photos tell their own story – especially when those caught in the act attempt a runner! The stories also demonstrate a certain weakness in the ability of officialdom to act effectively in the public interest.

  • “I would have given up after a while”

    Neil, it also needs to be said that the Slugger Award in 2008 was not just a source of encouragement to me, it also added to the credibility of NALIL stories.

    Slugger also provides an outlet for many important stories that might not make it into the MSM.

    I think the interaction of these different forms of media will help create and sustain a healthier democracy than we have at present.

  • joeCanuck

    That is the most substantial temporary gate I have ever seen. Not what I normally see put up by a contractor.
    Anything to do with the one who has been heard of?

  • “Anything to do ..”

    Further research is needed but, according to the Grapevine, there is an indirect connection to a politician. Let’s leave it to the professionals to tell that story.

  • Pigeon Toes

    You could be waiting a while…

  • Joe and PT, I’ve added a new image to the ‘recent one’ link. The new build looks to have a greater footprint and a higher profile than the dwelling it replaces. More and more of the coalyard wall continues to disappear.

    Perhaps it’s time for an FoI request to the Department of the Environment.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “your devotion to that part of the world”

    It might come as a surprise to a lot of readers in Slugger, that a large part of Northern Ireland exists outside Belfast.

    Even though huge swathes of the Belfast population decamp to Nevin’s “part of the world” during holiday season.

  • joeCanuck

    So, PT, North Antrim is otherworldly? Well, maybe, if a politician of whom I have heard gets elected on his father’s coattails regardless of his total incompetence

  • joeCanuck

    Nevin,
    Presumably they’re building a deluxe piggery. For a fat pig.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Joe what about the total incompetence of all other esteemed MLAs in relation to the Rathlin ferry contract?

    Apparently it’s been “too complicated” or indeed seemingly following their own agenda.

    They issue press statements in support of investigations when the holes in the report are glaringly obvious.

    Declan O Loan on discovering the Pre Qualifcation Questionnaire was not scored as it was supposed to stated
    “I note that no bidder was ruled out at the pre-qualification stage, and hence no one can claim to have been disadvantaged”

    Nevin has indeed provided a voice for those who have held concerns regarding the procurement and beyond http://nalil.blogspot.com/2009/05/rathlin-ferry-mca-admission-calmac.html.

    Families have been destroyed in this process, whistle blowers vilified and essentially hounded from their home.

    It now seems that DFP echoed those concerns which further vindicates the position of Nevin and all those who held those concerns.