Minister on “solo run with enormous financial implications” without Executive approval

What to make of the Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister, Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy’s, apparent declaration of intent over NI Water?

Some would argue that the stated objective, of ‘re-nationalisation’ [within Northern Ireland] of the Water Service NI Water, was the main reason behind the ongoing saga.

From the BBC report

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson criticised Mr Murphy’s proposals as “expensive and unrealistic”.

“Bringing Northern Ireland Water back, and he has admitted this himself, into full public ownership would have revenue consequences, making the delivery of water services to Northern Ireland dearer,” he said.

“Secondly, it would make it much more difficult to draw in some private investment for the huge capital infrastructure investment which is still required.

“That’s somewhere in the region of £2,000m.”

Mr Cobain accused the minister of going on a “solo run with enormous financial implications” while SDLP Regional Development spokesman, Conall McDevitt, claimed Mr Murphy had announced “a complete u-turn on his own policy”.

Mr Murphy spoke of the governance failures at NIW and the controversy that has ensued.

He said he expected robust scrutiny from Stormont’s Public Accounts Committee, and also spoke of a disciplinary process at NIW that was “taking longer than expected”.

He said the NIW chief executive, Laurence McKenzie, was progressing matters in relation to disciplining staff.

But the “extensive legislation” the minister acknowledged is required to achieve his declared objective has yet to be presented to the NI Executive, never mind being given their support.

Which makes it more likely that this is just another entry in the category of stamping their little feet all the way to the next election…

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