This is a particularly forensic statement from the DUP, which effectively ends what has been (probably by default) a bipartisan line on the NI Water story with Sinn Fein. I’m copying it, less for the political import and more for the nature of the questions it poses. Michelle McIllveen:
“This is a deeply serious situation, unprecedented in the Assembly. As Vice-Chairman of the Committee I had already asked for an urgent meeting with the DRD Minister following recent press coverage about the NIW situation.
The suspension of the Permanent Secretary is of such a magnitude that the DRD Committee should be recalled at the earliest convenience where the Minister and the Department can address the concerns of members.
Whilst we need to establish the truth about the role of the Permanent Secretary, many will question how the DRD Minister was able to offer defence for the Permanent Secretary and in less than twenty-four hours make a compete u-turn.
We need to establish how the situation changed and what, if any, new information came to the Minister’s attention. We need to establish if the Permanent Secretary was acting on his own instincts or was he taking any Ministerial guidance?
Another serious question is why the Minister moved so quickly to sack the four non-executive directors without checking the activity between the Department and the Review Panel.
The Minister is ultimately responsible for his Department and this situation did not develop overnight. We have witnessed the sacking of the four non-executive directors and now the Permanent Secretary of DRD has been suspended. This seems like a Department out of control. (emphasis added)”