Two named (and two unnamed) staff members of NI Water under investigation.

As reported on Slugger yesterday, two of the MLAs who came under direct attack from Peter Dixon for their role in the Public Accounts Committee’s masterclass interrogation of the Permanent Secretary of DRD and the Chief Executive (and Sub Accounting Officer) of NI Water have written both to the board of Phoenix Gas and their owners, the private equity firm Terra Firma, as to whether or not they support Mr Dixon’s attack on Stormont’s PAC written on Phoenix headed notepaper and signed in his capacity of Group CEO?

In the meantime, Slugger understands that at least one of the only two staff members publicly associated with the ‘problems’ identified by the Internal Review Team (assembled with what begins to look like unwarranted haste in two days between the 18th and 20th January this year) has received an initial hearing. Ronan Larkin and George Butler were named by the Minister in the Assembly on 15th March, just three days after the sacking of four out of five non executives on 12th March (ie three weeks after the so called ‘deep dive’ report was commissioned) .

We don’t know whether that was on the advice of the Permanent Secretary or the Minister’s own determination to put a marker down, but at least one of the senior staff members affected had no idea it had happened until some time later in the evening.

Then, just before the PAC was due to meet, rumours began to circulate DRD and NI Water that two others (unnamed by the minister) were also going to be investigated. From what we can discern, and please appreciate we are peering into some very murky waters here, one of these new individuals only received a date for their hearing and a review on Friday (ie, the day after the PAC hearing).

As yet, we have not been able to confirm the names of either of these new individuals… So we would ask commenters to refrain from any irresponsible speculation in that regard until we can confirm the details here, or it emerges elsewhere in the media…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty