“it is important to restore the public’s confidence in NIW…”

The NI Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee declined the offer to question directly the former chairman of Northern Ireland Water – who, along with the non-executive directors, disputes the circumstances of their dismissal in March.  Meanwhile, as the BBC notes, the NI Regional Development Minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, has appointed 4 new non-executive directors to the Board of NI Water by “an emergency process”.

The new directors are: Mairtin O’Muilleoir, a Belfast businessman and former Sinn Fein councillor; Peter Bunting, a senior trade unionist.

Lawson McDonald, a former senior civil servant and Kevin Steele an accountant and former director at NI Electricity.

And the ministerial statement tells us [added emphasis throughout]

  • The non-executive directors have been appointed by the Minister by an emergency process. Although the Department discussed the process with the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland (CPANI) it is classified as an exception to the Code of Practice.
  • This will mean that there will be a total of five non-executive Directors on the NIW Board.
  • Each non-executive Director will be paid £18,000 per annum on the basis of 2 days attendance per month. An additional per diem allowance may be payable subject to an overall maximum of £21,000 per annum.
  • All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for the political activity of appointees to be published.
  • Three of the Non-Executives have declared that they have not engaged in any political activity for the past five years. Máirtín Ó Muilleoir declared that he canvassed for Sinn Fein in Belfast constituencies, most recently for Gerry Adams in the May 2010 Westminster election.