NI Water is the political classes’ big opportunity..

I got this in my mail box from Chambre this morning…

There is an opportunity to carve through the morass and leave aside petty politics. Already there has been point scoring. If they were to leave that aside, gain clear answers, translated in a way that the public can understand, then the esteem of politicians would grow.

No further comment required…

  • Mick, to make a general point: how can the esteem of politicians grow if they indulge in petty politics and fraternise with lobbyists? Fine words need to be complemented by fine and fair practices. Lobbyists are paid to act for their clients and such actions may well run counter to the best interests of the community.

  • Stone me, you go away for a few weeks and come back to this. Astonishing.

    My tribute to the Slugger and others is on my blog. A bit contrived but genuinely appreciative. It was a very good day for governance when Slugger involved itself in this.

  • Why did DRD mislead The Consumer Council over NIwater appointments ?

    Just spoke to the Consumer Council – the game is a foot !!

  • Mick Fealty

    I’ll bet it is…

  • Excellent work, belfastjj. Have you got the documents relating to the appointment of the other NEDs or an explanation for the additional NED? Any comment from Huston’s office on the community ‘balance’ of the NEDs?

    Conor Murphy wanted to make an announcement of the award of the Rathlin ferry contract on May 1, 2008, but for some reason or other the announcement of the award was brought forward. IIRC a trade unionist had asked a question that ‘forced’ the Minister’s hand.

    Timing of announcements should always be queried, especially those at the end of parliamentary terms – or a few days before Christmas!!

  • Mick Fealty

    Would you quit playing the man and find a ball to kick.

    Most (not all) of your posts are endlessly distracting and conspiracy laden.

    The importance of this story lies in finding, facts, not making vague and slanderous accusations because of associations you don’t like.

    I hate to say this, but I’m getting close to closing you out of the Slugger threads altogether, if you don’t do the work and crunch stuff down to something concrete.

    Nudge, nudge, wink, wink is just not good enough…

  • Pigeon Toes

    Felicity Houston is looking at the appointments

    “The commissioner for public appointments, Felicity Houston, said that she had asked the DRD for a report into the appointments but stressed: “There is no reason to believe that the process didn’t apply with the principles of my code. But due to the public interest in the process, I have asked for a report and will deal with it when it comes out.”

  • Mick Fealty

    This just looks screwy because there is a lapse between making the decision and making the announcement? But all organisations do this.

    No smoking gun here.

    BY all means keep digging BJJ. We need the reply if we’re to make much more of it… I’d be interested in finding out what prompted McKeown to write at that moment. Was she instructed by her Board for instance, or did she do it off her own bat.

    Note that she writes the day after the decision was made on the inside of DRD.

    But do you see what’s happening? No one is now talking about the subject in the original thread. Better sending me the piece rather than ‘hijacking’ other subjects.

  • just sayin’

    In many ways I agree with the “no futher comment needed”.

    If the parties can see the collective interest in using the current situation to assert political primacy, idenitfy and deal properly with any possible impropriety then their stock must rise.

    Lets be honest though – whilst there is any hint of impropriety by politicians, then their opponents not only will but probably should focus on that too (I stress TOO, not INSTEAD).

  • I think we’re all looking for facts, Mick, I know I certainly am. I’m also trying to avoid rushing to value judgements about any of the key or lesser players. Talk of conspiracy is a misunderstanding of my open-minded approach to the NI Water fiasco and similar stuff.

    As you know, I’ve been ‘doing the work and crunching stuff down to concrete’ for close on three years on NALIL blog as well as here on Slugger – with more than a little help from my friends. You’ll also find examples of it on Scribd and on the collation of NIW FoI and other stuff, with attribution, on the picasaweb link. The MSM may be attracted by the sensational; I’m not.

  • Sean Og

    Belfastjj – no story there. All large organisations try to manage the news. DRD are no different.

    By the way – why does every second post from Nevin have to mention the Rathlin ferry?

  • Now don’t exaggerate, Sean og. Deja vu comes to mind.

  • fin

    and why does someone call Pigeon Toes seem to follow you around Nevin, posting at roughly the same time? and seems to have the same writing style, interests and political point of view?

  • fin

    Mick, it may be going beyond petty politics already, the NewsLetter article you linked to earlier has Sammy singing the praises of privatised utility companies while accusing SF of wanting NIWater fully in the public sector. SF would do well to pick up and run with that one, it would be entertaining to have Sammy find examples of successful privatisation in the UK

  • Fin, perhaps Sammy missed Raymond McCartney’s comments some months ago:

    “My colleague Conor Murphy has already ruled out the privatisation of these services and reaffirmed the commitment to ensure they remain in full public ownership. He then deferred proposed household charges over the course of this Assembly term. He has now moved to examine the option of bringing NI Water back into his Department and under central government control and what the implications of that would be, which is to be welcomed.”

    I suspect party dogma will continue to outweigh the sentiments expressed in Mick’s post.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘why does every second post from Nevin have to mention the Rathlin ferry?’

    Because, if you look closely enough, there are also ‘procurement issues’ involved in the awarding of the Rathlin Island ferry, but it’s something that the media have never shown a great deal of interest in.

    However, there are enough parallels between that and the water escapade to lead to a belief that there has been, for some time, an odd sort of culture within DRD, and NIW isn’t the first instance of it. It’s just that the NIW story has gone mega.

    But, I repeat, odd behaviour in government departments, and a lack of transparency and honesty is not patently obvious.

    There’s the Rathlin Island ferry contract issue, and other issues. Reinforcing these facts is important because it would not be unlike government departments to infer that NIW is an ‘isolated incident’ and that they’ve got to the bottom of it, and solved the problem.

    Because that’s not true.

    NIW is just the latest in a long line of governmental abuses since devolution.

  • Pigeon Toes

    For the record I don’t have any political views.
    (in the Northern Irish sense)

  • Pigeon Toes

    I think Nevin would be most disappointed to learn that other felt we had similar writing styles (due to my grammatical errors and over use of the comma).

    The Rathlin Ferry contract is part of the DRD mess and the “Department out of control”.

    Though I’m more minded to think that particular issue was cock up followed by a series of bad cover ups.

    Let’s just say the NIW story has particular resonance for me personally.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘There is an opportunity to carve through the morass and leave aside petty politics. Already there has been point scoring. If they were to leave that aside, gain clear answers, translated in a way that the public can understand, then the esteem of politicians would grow.’

    Very much a case of statin’ the bleedin’ obvious, I’d have thought, but already we’ve seen (as usual) the desire to the other lot, as evidenced in various news and blog outlets.

    I’m relatively new to SOT, and I’m wary of that ‘playing the man’ rule, so feel unsure of naming names of those ‘professional’ politicians who are commenting, but it’s pretty clear that several of them, across the board, don’t grasp the broad brushstrokes, never mind the finer detail, of the matter. And I’m not talking about key political figures involved. Minister Murphy seems to have some grasp of the matter, if not the Machiavellian intent that seems apparent inside the DRD and NIW.

    That’s rather worrying.

    Some of the statements to the MSM are bad enough, failing to either address the core of the matter entirely by simply blaming a political opponent for failures, or perhaps worse, indulge in the unedifying spectacle of party loyalty and rushing to establish their credentials as a bag man.

    The blogosphere would appear to be an even worse area for displaying ignorance, stupidity or a wholly gauche attitude to the matter. I’m not going to name names, but it’s a relatively simple task to search for the political ‘professionals’ whose blogging reaches a whole new level of dumb.

    If we imagine that our political ‘professionals’ are going to follow the PR advice offered by Chambre, we afford them far too much intelligence, because the race already appears to be on to stick it to a political opponent as quickly as possible (and mostly from a position of self-evident ignorance on, well, everything really).

    Allowed to smoulder, these attitudes would have the effect of burying the core NIW/DRD element, resulting in the main players (relatively speaking) getting ‘off the hook’.

    That cannot be allowed to happen.

    Statements to the MSM and in the blogosphere may all be generally regarded as unhelpful right now. What we need is for some sense of politicians ignoring party loyalty, or seeing the issue as a convenient leg-up to snipe at someone else, and being seen less on the side of their party or their tribe, and more on the side of right or wrong.

    Siding with party colleagues, or using the matter for target practice firmly places some blowhard rent-a-quotes on the wide of ‘wrong’.

  • fin, a lot of my NALIL stories relate to planning, procurement and governance, Stormont and local. Most of them are flagged up to me but not all. The ministries mainly involved are DOE and DRD.

  • Hello there

    Don’t suppose anybody could fix my hyperlink on the seen elsewhere menu and correct the title to read “Priestley’s an Inspector Calls.”

    As my tribute to Slugger has made it onto the “Seen Elsewhere” it may as well be read or ignored by choice.



  • Pigeon Toes

    I read and enjoyed.