The NIW saga is fascinating because of the volume and breadth of questions arising from it. There’s the elected reps vs. permanent govt (civil service) angle; the issue around procurement rules and potential for uncovering legacy of corruption, incompetence or bad practice; and the opportunity being presented for the scrutiny function of our legislators to be asserted and defined as never before.
And then there is the issue of watching how the political representatives react to an unfolding situation for which they have little experience nor understanding.
Mick has given a recent update gauging the responses from the different political parties.
Here, David Vance quotes and offers his views on Jim Allister’s critique of the signficance of contributions to date from Sinn Fein Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Paul Maskey, in support of his fellow Sinn Fein MLA, Minister Conor Murphy.
Another interesting contribution has been the SDLP’s John Dallat calling for Chris Mellor and the remaining three other former non-Executive Directors to be reinstated in the aftermath of the suspension of Paul Priestley.
Mellor was acting chief executive of NIW as well as chairman for 14 months, so he was hands on in charge of the company for the chunk of the period when it was said to be breaking basic procurement rules.
And he is the same Chris Mellor who a certain John Dallat used to lambast in the not too distant past- here and here.
Given that Dallat used words like “comedy of errors”, “incompetence”, “dysfunctional”, “inefficient” and “ineffective” when condemning the Mellor-led NI Water, we could be forgiven for wondering why he wants the man back.
And here’s Mr Dallat calling directly for the sacking of Chris Mellor in 2008:
Assembly Reg Dev Cttee
12 March 2008
John Dallat [to DRD official] “you confirmed that the Department is the sole shareholder in the water company. Therefore, you are the only people who are in a position to do anything about the situation. When will you sack the chairman, the chief executive and the chief accountant?”
The chairman was Chris Mellor
The issue was errors in bill calculation figures at NI Water
Dallat to Chris Mellor at same cttee meeting: “Northern Ireland Water spent £40 million on consultants, received huge back-up from the Civil Service and flew in new directors from, let us say, other islands. Despite all that, at the very last minute it discovered that the most elementary arithmetic was wrong. That begs the question: when will the people responsible realise that their time is up, that it is time to go?”