NI Water: So just how many STAs was DRD using?

This Assembly Questions to the DRD Minister Conor Murphy should flush out some interesting answers about the use of Single Tender Actions inside the Department:

2. Mr P McGlone (Mid Ulster):

To ask the Minister for Regional Development how many single tender actions were issued by (i) Roads Service; (ii) Translink; and (iii) the Harbour Commissioner in (a) 2005/06; (b) 2006/07; (c) 2007/08; (d) 2008/09; and (e) 2009/10.

3. Mr P McGlone (Mid Ulster):

To ask the Minister for Regional Development how many contract extensions have been put in place, without going to tender, by (i) Roads Service; (ii) Translink; and (iii) the Harbour Commissioner in (a) 2005/06; (b) 2006/07; (c) 2007/08; (d) 2008/09; and (e) 2009/10.

Look out for the material regarding the Harbour Commissioners when it emerges. It ought to bring a useful perspective on what IRT member, Peter Dixon actually thought was a good practice in his function as a DRD appointed member of the Board. As we have seen, the current CEO was less than candid about his own use of STAs over his nine years as CEO with NIE.

Will it be ‘better’ than NI Water’s performance, or ‘worse’? As we have argued, there is not much of a case for arguing that NI Water’s use of Single Tender Actions was either gratuitous nor the direct fault of the Non Executive Directors fired by the Minister.

If there was fault anywhere on the Board it is extremely odd that the one person, Don Price, who sat on the company’s audit committee is the one who still has his job.

, ,

  • Pigeon Toes

    What about DRD itself?

  • medillen

    At the risk of being barred Mick, can I ask the question how much has Declan Gormley donated to this site?

  • Pigeon Toes

    Nice line of questioning from Mr Mc Glone. Though I suspect
    “we do not have that information available” type answer…

  • Mick Fealty

    Med,

    Why do you ask?

  • medillen

    I’m just curious, why do you not answer?

  • Mick Fealty

    Just curious to know what prompted the question.

  • medillen

    Just curious what prompts the evasion?

  • Mick Fealty

    We could go on riffing on this theme all night… You want some candour from me, I’m simply asking for some from you in return…

  • wild turkey

    barred? up to the moderators

    boring? definetly

    your post is an insuiation. although it tries to pose as a question. why don’t give it u?
    sign up for the palin 2012 campaign, be comfortable with your tea party right wing know nothing creditenials

    question med, how much is connolly house/sepastopol street/ the south armagh murphy business empire paying YOU? [Text removed – Behave WT! – Mods]

  • medillen

    Ok Mick I ask because from the outset of this issue ,this site has been wieghted and persisted on a particular version of the facts, which concurs with the one of the interested parties therefore my curiousity is surely justified. Are you going to answer my question?

  • William Markfelt

    ‘from the outset of this issue ,this site has been wieghted and persisted on a particular version of the facts, which concurs with the one of the interested parties’

    That ‘one interested party’ being the shareholder in NIW, i.e. the people of NI.

    Perhaps you’d like to offer an alternative version of the facts for discussion?

  • William Markfelt

    Mr. P McGlone (Mid Ulster) is emerging as a class act. It’s almost as if he could revive your belief in the theory, so often something that merely remains a theory, that public servants are capable of doing the right thing, even if surround by other public servants determined to do the wrong thing.

  • Mick Fealty

    So you think this story’s got traction with the Audit Office, the PAC, the Utilities Regulator, the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, the Information Commissioners Office and, albeit sporadically, even the Minister himself that it’s because in the meantime we’ve been slavishly serving the interests of one party to the exclusion of all others rather than paying close attention to the evidence?

  • medillen

    A legimate question I would have thought

  • Mick Fealty

    I will of course answer your question. Why would I not? But in the meantime, I’d like a serious answer to mine.

  • Pigeon Toes

    What is encouraging is that others (cross party) are following up on the idea of real scrutiny.

    It isn’t putting out a press release, about returning to issues and then not bothering yer arse, despite that same issue turning up every couple of months.

  • medillen

    I am sorry Mick, I thought I had, I agree totally that these issues need examined in detail and the cuprits held to account. But I have asked a direct question, which is fairly important and you have yet to answer.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘What is encouraging is that others (cross party) are following up on the idea of real scrutiny.’

    Yes. There is the faint hope that this issue is the one in which NI government grows up. To the best of my recollection, I don’t ever recall them doing that before, in either incarnation of the Assembly as it currently stands and probably certainly not in the pre-72 Stormont era.

  • Mick Fealty

    Yep, as must be obvious by now, I completely agree with your point about the importance of tough but fair scrutiny.

    Don’t you think we’ve been fair? If not, how so?

  • Pigeon Toes

    Too many have been advised to treat their constituents with suspicion, by civil servants , rather than treating the civl servants.

    Some constituents are coming now with queries, where previously, the best advice would be ” sit there, shut your mouth and say nothing”. “You will suffer as a result.”
    All still true…
    However, without confidence in the people *we pay to represent us* , exactly what is the point in speaking up against the likes of DRD, BELB,NIW etc

    Or indeed, what is the point of voting?

  • medillen

    I am not commenting on scrutiny which I fully agree with, I simply asked a question.

  • medillen

    Still no answer Mick, you did say you would?

  • Mick Fealty

    LOL,

    Here’s your question: “How much has Declan Gormley donated to this site?”

    Answer: Not a bean. And thanks for asking.

  • medillen

    Fair enough Mick, but I had to ask?

  • William Markfelt

    ‘I had to ask?’

    Did you?

    The dogs in the street have formed an opinion on the NIW saga, and the performances of those on the periphery of it.

    Yet you, alone, seem to persist in the notion that there’s an alternative view. One that, curiously, you seem reluctant to share.

    I ask you again, would you care to offer up an alternative version to the facts as understood by most people?

  • Mick Fealty

    No problem Med. So long as you know where the Donate button is!! Do your bit to keep her lit!! 🙂

  • Dr Concitor

    Dixon is a Harbour Commissioner appointed by DRD. He gives his services to the DRD set up IRT for nothing. I would think that being CEO of Phoenix would be full time job. A major part of his job is ensuring the profitability of Phoenix, which is in turn seriously affected by the regulator NIUAR, another government body. If he is doing his job properly should he not establish close links with similarly regulated bodies(NIE) and lobby government for favourable financial regulation from NIUAR

  • fin

    Mick, this story changed direction almost immediately, I find it difficult to understand where you are going with it. Is it that the 4 NEDs’ lost their jobs unfairly, NED is not a real job, at the moment and in the foreseeable future many thousands of much poorer people are going to lose their jobs because of cutbacks and many would say thats unfair (as the Govenor of the BoE said this week to trade unionists), OR is it that they were unfairly accused of something in the media, well read a few threads on Slugger or the newspaper they are not the only ones to get that treatment.

    From the people who post comments on NIW threads on slugger and the fact that its pretty much only the SDLP who are running with this in the real world its obvious that this is really a political kickabout.

    So lets ‘man up’ on this, forget the petty shit, what Conor is trying to achieve is bringing NIW back into the public sector.

    As a republican AND as someone who has seen the disasters of privatisation in the rest of the UK I’m happy with that. Can anyone tell me a success story for privatisation?

    Why, because when publically owned they are responsible to the public, privately owned they are responsible to shareholders.

    Case in hand, Andrew Muir is trying to prevent 6 reservoirs from being concreted over, a publically owned NIW could leave these in place for the benefit of the public, a privately owned NIW will sell and give the cash to its shareholders.

    Frankly fairly disgusted at the MLA for Sth Belfast continued support for continuing the privatisation of NIW while bleating on about his Republican credentials – some needs to buy him a dictionary for Christmas so he can look up the meaning.

    So, the big story is not did 4 wealthy people lose their noddy jobs or where horrid things said about them in public, that story is being played out for thousands of people at the moment, the big story is is Sinn Fein right to start steering NIW back into the public sector OR should it continue on the path to privatisation, we know that Connor the republican wants public sector and Conall the republican wants privatisation, what about everyone else.

  • Mick Fealty

    Fin,

    This is no Flood tribunal, that’s for sure. But you’re making the same mistake as our friend med, and seeing this through a solely political lens. Certainly neither of the two unionist parties have acquitted themselves well over this.

    And it has also shown up: 1, just how critical the PAC can be in holding power to account; and 2, just how poorly parties other than the SDLP and Sinn Fein had manned this particular station. Mitchel is a class act in anyone’s book, he’s just not working to his full effect here because it is his minister who’s in difficulty.

    Dawn Purvis is the unexpected bonus, and should, were their any natural justice in this world, be given the Chair next time round…

    Look, you either believe people should be brought to book for their actions, or you believe that the political mandate means that people should get away with anything, and the rest of us be obliged to turn a blind eye to it. For a man who calls himself a Republican, that’s right down the Haughey end of Irish Republicanism.

    As for where this story is going, I don’t know. Whilst I’ve no issue with them being fired, I do know with a high degree of certainty that the process used to fire the NEDs was bullshit. If they get away with it this time, who’s going to be next?

    And how do we call those long established N Down/S Antrim elites who have been running the country for the last forty years to account? All the sound-bites in the world won’t get that job done.

    At the heel of the hunt, we elect MLAs and in turn Ministers to run the country, not nameless civil servants.

  • Pigeon Toes

    I do know with a high degree of certainty that the process used to fire the NEDs was bullshit. If they get away with it this time, who’s going to be next?

    Mick, it’s not a first, as well you know . It is however a first in terms of PAC members challenging the information fed to them
    by faceless, nameless and (prior to this) unaccountable civil servants.

  • Mick Fealty

    Did I say that? Sorry, what I mean to say was that if we just let it pass this time when it is so bleedin obvious there’s been a profound misdirection of process, how would you ever get the motivation up to stop it next time.

    It was not my intention to imply it had not happened before. IN fact we can infer from the casual way Mr Priestley shared his wording for the Dixon attack on the PAC with other senior officials that he had no sense that what he was doing was ‘wrong’. Or at least would be construed like that by the outside world.

    And therefore there may be some continuity with events that have happened heretofore…

  • William Markfelt

    ‘what Conor is trying to achieve is bringing NIW back into the public sector.

    As a republican AND as someone who has seen the disasters of privatisation in the rest of the UK I’m happy with that. Can anyone tell me a success story for privatisation?’

    As someone who is not a republican, I’d actually be supportive of the concept of nationalised utilities. These are fundamental needs basic to everyone, and I find it nauseating that they are hived off as money-making exercises serving the needs, primarily, of the shareholders rather than the users. So if Conor can nationalise NIW, I doff my cap, regardless of mere ‘party politics’ (I’m pretty much ‘socialist’, so let’s face facts: I’ve no representation at all in Stormont, and apart from one or two of the old guard, none at Westminster).

    It’s important to leave aside the usual tribalism in approaching the NIW story. It transcends mere party politics. At its core is a tale of intrigue, manipulation, power-games, lies, cover ups and economy with the truth and, in party, economy with basic humanity dressed up as ‘business’.

    Fuck that for a game of soldiers. Anyone whose hand has touched the hem of McKenzie’s coat appears to have been tainted with an ever-widening circle of appalling, wretched, blindly ambitious actions.

    No, the big story remains the sacking of the NEDs and the denial of due process or basic human rights in respect of the manner in which they were treated. As for ‘noddies’, I think you’ll find it’s the new NEDs who fit that description more readily.

    In time, the story MAY become SF steering NIW back into public ownership. But that’s a different story for a different time. Right now, the NIW story continues to run, and will do for some time. Very few have emerged with any credit whatsoever from the train-wreck, right across the political spectrum.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘It is however a first in terms of PAC members challenging the information fed to them
    by faceless, nameless and (prior to this) unaccountable civil servants.’

    Agree, 100%. And while there is some sense of PAC growing milk teeth, it has yet to counter-balance the sense of their past collective failures to do what needed to be done.

  • Pigeon Toes

    That’s one of the reasons I have empathy (God knows why) for Priestly.

    BTW, I was trawling through some old FoI stuff the other night, and, given that so much analysis has gone into his scripting of emails one correspondence from the man is signed “Yours ever” (Not to me. Obviously) 😀

  • Dr Concitor

    And how do we call those long established N Down/S Antrim elites who have been running the country for the last forty years to account? All the sound-bites in the world won’t get that job done.
    Mick,I was trying to point out some of the connections within this so called elite this morning. You are absolutely right, the only way to control these people is holding them to account by having a properly functioning democracy. The SDLP to their credit are growing into this role, which is obviously annoying SF.
    To state again the bleeding obvious, if the NEDs had failed in their duties to such an extent that they had to go then heads should also have rolled within NIW as well, as the NEDS were only overseers of decisions not instigators.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘the only way to control these people is holding them to account by having a properly functioning democracy.’

    We could start in Stormont with an official Opposition, as opposed to this de facto one-party State-ism (and the excesses and corruption that implies).

    We could start to dismantle the apparatus of the ‘secret policemen’ who appear to operate in every government department, agency and GoCo, and who appear to have scant regard for due process and human rights.

  • Mick Fealty

    “if the NEDs had failed in their duties to such an extent that they had to go then heads should also have rolled within NIW as well, as the NEDS were only overseers of decisions not instigators.”

    Bang on. And if they weren’t we need chapter and verse on why none of those closest to the cookie jar were put under the lamp. Exec or non exec.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Next thing you know they will have their barrister claiming legal privilege on documents that said barrister has already stated did not exist. 😀

  • Pigeon Toes

    Oops wrong thread.

    Sorry!.

  • fin, perhaps the main tussle is between Conor and HM Treasury. He has set his face against water charges and this has created the prospect of significant VAT charges with the change to NDPB in March 2009.

    The September 2, 2009, meeting between the Minister, Priestly and MacKenzie dealt with problems surrounding Crystal Alliance/Steria and the need for ‘efficiencies’. MacKenzie is concerned about the timing of the latter so I’d imagine that the Minister was contemplating possible big budget cuts.

    What was the reaction of the old NEDs? Did they react negatively to this DRD ‘pressure’? MacKenzie refers to one NED who wanted to give DRD as little information as possible.

    The Minister called for further inquiries in January (UTV programme), inquiries which were commissioned by Priestly and MacKenzie. Internal inquiries are likely to have terms of reference which have particular outcomes in mind.

    On March 3, 2010, an email from Lian Patterson’s office calls for a meeting to ‘discuss confidential DRD relating issues’ and involving Patterson, Gary Fair, Margaret Langhammer (all DRD) and Felicity Huston, CPANI. CPANI arranged the meeting for the afternoon of March 11; a March 11 CAPNI note indicates that no minutes were kept at Patterson’s request but Huston sought a written request if there was to be an ‘exception’ to the CPANI Code of Practice.

    Also on March 3 the Minister sent the IRT report to the NIW Board and asked four NEDs to consider their positions; he despatched their dismissal notices on March 11.

    On March 18, in a document to the Minister’s Special Advisor, Patterson indicates that she will seek his ‘any preferences’ he may have from the names on the short list. CPANI and the Consumers Council IMO ought to closely examine the precise role of the Minister’s office in the selection of the new NEDs.

    There would appear to be an adequate lack of separation between some of the new NEDS and the Minister and Paul Priestly and with each other.

    The SDLP MLAs seem prepared to ask some of the tough questions this time round; they missed the boat at the time of the Rathlin ferry saga. As others have noted, the Unionist MLAs have been largely impotent though it was nice to see Michelle McIlveen gently put the Minister in his place:

    “The Deputy Chairperson:
    To be fair, MLAs have a mandate to be here and to challenge.

    The Minister for Regional Development:
    OK.”

  • Seems like a man who would reply positively to a friend who sought help, PT.

    You can just imagine a letter from Conor to the Treasury back in March 2009 commencing, ‘Darling, …’ 🙂

  • Pigeon Toes

    “Dawn Purvis is the unexpected bonus, and should, were their any natural justice in this world, be given the Chair next time round…”

    Clear, Calm and concise. Very, very impressed at her ability to steer through the bluff and bluster of the “witnesses”

  • Indeed; perhaps she also had sight of documents on Patsy McGlone’s table.

  • Pigeon Toes

    If that’s what she can do by looking over someone’s shoulder, imagine the potential with information brought directly to her!

  • Pigeon Toes

    Sorry, I meant sympathy, in that I think the behaviour was so ingrained, that he did not realise the repercussions stemming from it.

    I mean what kind of twit, would send “sensitive” emails to all and sundry, from their work address in the knowledge that someone was leaking them?

  • Granni Trixie

    PT: you are clearly impressed by DP …but how can you trust someone associated with the PUP (ans the doings of its members) for so long?
    The expression “talking out of both sides of mouth” comes to mind with Dawn.

  • medillen

    Dear dear Patsy’s staff get offended easily.

  • Granni Trixie, on this occasion we’re commenting on the quality of her questioning, not on the credibility of her answers.

  • Jj

    Nevins post above once again brings the Shareholder Unit Director into the situation. How long before this man, whose contempt for due process and FoI is asked some serious questions? When did he delete Paul Priestly’s email?

  • Jj

    Nevins post above once again brings the Shareholder Unit Director into the situation. How long before this man, whose contempt for due process and FoI is a matter of record, is asked some serious questions? When, for instance, did he delete Paul Priestly’s email? Did he draft the letter for the Sectretary?

  • observer

    What about laurence Mackenzie the ex boss at privatised NIE – which route does he favour? Perhaps he is a big fan of the public sector route. Interesting to hear thoughts on that. He stated when he resigned 5 months into the job – it wasn’t the job he thought it was.

  • observer

    oh come now granni – you must look beyond your prejudices. Dawn Purvis has been straight forward and exacting in her role on PAC – able to cut through the bluster and excuses put up by witnesses Mackenzie, Priestly and all.
    If proof was needed that this is bigger than just simple party politics of SDLP/SF, then her role on the PAC and that of Michelle McIlveen DUP on RDC demonstrate that.

  • Granni Trixie

    ‘Prejudice’ is something based on received stereotypes – I am however expressing a distrust for DP,based for her association with the PUP and attitudes implied in stsatements about say, punishment beatings in the past.
    (along the lines of middle class people dont understand “our” commnunity etc).
    This is not to say that I do not see that some of you are impressed on her ability to question and that I do not accept that she may have adjusted through time. But then it would be a long time before I ‘trust’ Martin McGuinness also. It is galling at times to be lectured to about minor ‘antisocial behaviours’ by such people.But then equally I believe most people have the capacity to change and should be given the space to do so. I would like very much if we all arrived at ‘today’ with a clean sheet, but this is not how it is.

  • Granni Trixie, what do your points about trust have to do with Mick’s and PT’s observations about her role in PAC?

  • Dr Concitor

    Nevin, to go back to your post 18.10.2010@1:01pm, do you think this was all part of the plan i.e. get rid of the old NEDs, put in new NEDs who you have already selected and will do your bidding all without following any semblance of correct procedures

  • Dr Concitor, I think the old NEDs had to go and that cronyism in the selection of the new NEDs can’t be ruled out.

    It’s fairly clear from the Patterson letters to McGlade, the Minister’s special advisor, on March 18 and to Huston the following day that the Commissioner was not fully briefed about the nature of the selection process. The March 19 letter does not mention that Patterson would be submitting the short list to the special advisor to seek any preferences he may have PRIOR to those conversations with a purpose.

    We then have the Ministerial smokescreen to the CRD: “The appointment process was done in consultation with the Commissioner for Public Appointments to ensure that she was satisfied that the interim process was carried out rigorously. It is unfair to [the Commissioner] to suggest that they are political appointees.”

    The Commissioner might have adopted a very different approach if she had been fully briefed. She would be perfectly entitled IMO to reprimand the DRD folks, including the Minister. The DRD got a LOW rating from CPANI for their previous NED appointment process. You might have thought that once bitten ..

    The March 19 letter indicates that Patterson, at that time, might not have known about the selection of an additional NED.

  • William Markfelt

    It looks that way, Doc. After all, ‘trust had broken down’ between McKenzie and the old set of NEDs. We know this and it’s in the public domain.

    So McKenzie wanted noddies who would do his bidding.There’s a bit of a smokescreen regarding those who became the new Neddies, the smelly selection procedure (an ’emergency’ procedure which boils down to ‘fuck the rules if we choose to’) and question marks hung over those who form the new neddies, in terms of association to one another and the minister.

    I don’t really buy into that line. It party-politicises a story which needs no party-politicicisation. Essentially, it all comes back to McKenzie getting yes-men in place to run NIW in his image.

    I don’t think there’s a plan at all, other than getting yes-men in place and getting rid of the awkward bastards.

  • fin

    Sorry Mick, I’m not buying it, guessing someone like you is an avid reader of Private Eye like myself and stuff like this occurs every week in NHS Trusts and local government. So if you want to know when civil servants will get away with something like this next I suggest you pop out and buy Private Eye Wednesday next.

    The difference between you, Nevin/Pigeon Toes and I is at least I’m honest in saying its a political story.

    Nevin/Pigeon Toes the republican SDLP unelected MLA has touted £55m as the cost of returning NIW to public ownership, a bullet in the foot for him really, as 55m is not even a drop in the ocean (is that a pun) and easily cancelled out by what any privatised company would want as a return, esp. as that 55m is tied up in VAT and so a paper cost.

    It still goes back to Public versus Private, and the unelected MLA for Sth Belfast is already on thin ice throwing his weight in with the UUP and DUP on the 11+.

    So Mick, lets stop the games and why not have the debate on privatising NIW which is what Connor wants to reverse, maybe the SDLP republican and ex employee of a privatised company can do an ‘essay’ on the virtues of handing over the state’s assets to German/French/Aussie or whatever company. Or maybe that country to the South will switch funding from new roads in NI and buy NIW instead.

    Either way, apart from asking once again can anyone name a successful privatisation; what about the 6 reservoirs up for sale should NIW take the money or should they be preserved, and is that a more important question than the NEDs been sacked, I think it is!!

    more importantly dispite 50% of the family being from Cork I’m gutted that Down lost

  • Procrasnow

    I am completely lost

  • William Markfelt

    ‘the unelected MLA for Sth Belfast’

    As far as I recall, sniping at co-opted MLAs isn’t really something that supporters of any of the local parties standing inside the glass house really want to do since I think all of them have undertaken the same tactics at some point since the formation of the Assembly.

  • fin, if you can’t spot the differences between PT and myself can I suggest you consider the services of a well known optician 😉

    You must have seen several of my references to the political angle, including the Treasury dimension. Here’s a cracker: “Peter Bunting & Mairtin O’Muilleoir under the NED 2 “community confidence” category” – courtesy of DRD.

  • Dr Concitor

    Fin, who exactly is privatising NIW at this moment in time? Are DRD, the only shareholder, doing something else behind our backs?

  • William Markfelt

    ‘at least I’m honest in saying its a political story.’

    I don’t think anyone is claiming it isn’t a ‘political’ story. After all, it involves GoCos, a government department who have repeatedly been found to be failing in their duties, shenanigans at a public utility in which a government department acts as the trustee for the that utility’s users -the people of NI- and an overstepping of the responsibilities of permanent government.

    It’s political from top to bottom.

    What it isn’t is the usual, tired sniping about the other lot (which also happens in Westminster and Dail Eireann, but with a totally different set of reasons for sniping about the other lot). It’s a big, important issue because ‘corruption’ lies at the heart of it, not fiscally, but a moral bankruptcy.

    Either we, collectively, the people, dig away at this until there are satisfactory answers and lessons learnt by those in positions of moral bankruptcy, or we let the entire matter drop and for further perversions of democracy and honesty in public life to continue unchallenged. I know which route I prefer.

    I favour nationalisation of public utilities. I think we should also be examining the nationalising of NIE as a matter of course, too, because I agree that we aren’t best served by a parent company in France with a greater duty to their shareholders than they are to users.

    But here’s a question:

    If we do take the nationalised utility route, how can the debate on water charges possibly continue? Surely it becomes a given that they will be introduced to help pay for the infrastructure?

    While last week Mr. Murphy was ruling that out, where the hell is the money going to come from? A central, but shrinking, pot? Do we take it away from Culture? Health? Education?

    As I recall, NIW’s figures point to a £1m per day expenditure. That’s £365m to be found each year, from somewhere else, if there are going to be no water charges, so it’s clear that the nationalisation (without charges) route is either a) dumbly thought through or b) going to be paid for by a Con-Dem government? I don’t even think that a Labour one would be buying the idea of an additional £365m a year in current economic conditions. Or any conditions.

    It’s a dead duck, politically speaking, for a minimum of four years. And it’s dead because it was dumb enough to fly while a raft of Stormont sportsmen were levelling the old shotguns on a slow moving, slow thinking target.

    It ain’t gonna happen, or certainly ain’t gonna happen without water charges to every household and business and farm in NI. There is simply no argument against this. Well, there is, but the idea of snipping bits from the Culture, Health or Education budgets to find this £365m a year is just as airy-fairy as the notion of nationalisation.

    Those six reservoirs up for sale, incidentally, at ‘market value’ (in a depressed market) also smacks of asset stripping. I would imagine that every person expressing an interest to buy needs a deep dive investigation of their relationships with others. NI is, we are told constantly in the NIW saga, is a ‘small place’. Certainly small enough to ensure that you can flog them off to your mates?

    Anyway, a couple of grand should secure their purchase. I do believe that land in and around Craigantlet can occasionally sell for as much as £25 per 1/4 acre.

  • Mr Angry

    Anglers have paid for the upkeep and stocking costs of these waters for many years through the licence and permit costs which they pay each year.

    Asset stripping is exactly what the proposed sale of these reservoirs is.

    Any move to sell these assets to the private sector will lead to angling becoming too cost prohibitive a past time for many people – especially those on pensions or lower incomes.

  • Mick Fealty

    GT:

    You are playing the man and not the ball: http://sluggerotoole.com/?p=5088. Worse, you’re having to change the subject to make your point valid.

    She’s been superb on this issue. Go watch her performance at the last public session of the PAC: http://sluggerotoole.com/?p=29233.

  • William Markfelt

    The deputy FM is a keen angler. I imagine that the angling community would find a sympathetic ear if they were to lobby him with their concerns on this issue.

  • Granni Trixie

    Mick:why would I look at even a “superb” performance of someone I have no reason to trust?

    But end of all this for me…I accept your reprimand (as you know I am not a goody goody anyway).

  • Mick Fealty

    Fin, of course it’s a political story, in that there is a strong political element to it… My point is that if you apply a purely political lens do it, the whole thing distorts. It certainly hasn’t helped the Minister much to try and contain matters.

    The fact is that the Minister’s Permanent Secretary is now under investigation for the first time since the beginning of the NI state and only the second time in the century and a half of the British Civil Service.

    IN that context, the politics is, to use the Minster’s description, a sideshow.

    Your case that this was a row about public vs private ownership of NI Water has no basis in evidence other than the Minister subsequently squeezed out two of Priestley’s suggestions for replacements and put in two anti privatisation NEDs and a political chair.

    That’s a canny piece of opportunism worthy of admiration, if viewed from a Machiavellian poin of view, but it is not the reason we’re following this story. The real meat in the sandwich comes prior to the sacking of the old NEDs.

    And appeasement of the resigning CEO appears to have been the only serious criterion. Read the Minister’s speech in response to McDevitt in June this year where he effectively rules out re-nationalisation on cost grounds.

    Now, costing. It cost £45 million to set up the GoCo, £55 million seems a reasonable price for disentanglement. How much it costs after that is a matter of conjecture. But I notice you are not referencing Sammy Wilson’s £2 Billion over a three year budgetary term.

    And on that point how many hospitals will close because the Minister says he is planning to take Water back onto a shrinking subvention now the Brown money is running out?

    None of the details of this story demonstrate that the minister has done anything other than react to the collapse of his Permanent Secretary’s plans to keep trouble from the ministerial door.

    I think you’ll find I am not the one playing games here…

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, you are entitled to mistrust whomever you choose.

    But if we’re going to talk honestly about the substance of the matter, knowing something about the matter in hand is surely a reasonable requirement?

    I’m not asking you or anyone else to endorse Purvis politically, but neither were we asking people to do that with our senior two politicians of the year over the last two years – Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness respectively – in the Slugger Awards.

    But, how and ever, I am, for now, standing by my own personal judgement that her performance in the PAC was indeed “superb”…

    As one of the few members of the “Opposition”, it’s probably crucial that she did step up to the mark in one of the few official positions afforded her…

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s a bit like that on NIW threads. It’s a complex story and everyone wants to follow their own favoured lines of inquiry.

    But suffice to say that DRD’s answers to Mr McGlone’s questions are likely to show that the procurement practices NI Water are in line with the other public bodies run by that Deparment.

    If it does, people will ask why he doesn’t sack those other boards? It would also raise questions of Peter Dixon who sits on the board of the Harbour Commissioners, and who sat in harsh judgement of NI Water over the same matter.

    i would also add, that contrary to fin’s efforts above, this mess is 95% non political. This is to do with reporting systems that have failed to keep tabs on the machinations of an insider network that seems to think it can still do what it bloody well likes.

  • Granni Trixie

    Mick: are you a cheer leader or what?

  • Mick Fealty

    Not.

  • “squeezed out two of Priestley’s suggestions for replacements”

    I missed that one, Mick. Is there a link to the detail of this?

    I’m not sure about the ‘canny piece of opportunism’. I’d like to hear the Huston and McKeown view of what appears to me to be old fashioned cronyism.

  • Granni Trixie, it doesn’t really matter who asks the questions. If they expose maladministration or fraud so much the better.

  • Mick Fealty

    No. It’s unconfirmed; which is why I’ve not blogged it.

    I’ve not got the long list from DRD, but it would be something you and JJ should try to target. But I suspect it might be exempt from the act.

  • OK. I misunderstood your statement; I presumed there was such confirmation.

  • interested

    “Can anyone tell me a success story for privatisation?”

    yes-the telephone privatisation resulting in the mobile telephone system is a clear example of success-even global success of the model. However translating the model to Electricity network and in particular to water may have been been less successful.
    also in the world beyond NI it is not clear how you raise capital for big infrastructure projects without moving some way along this road-speaking of roads-a case in point.

  • fin

    “Now, costing. It cost £45 million to set up the GoCo, £55 million seems a reasonable price for disentanglement. How much it costs after that is a matter of conjecture. But I notice you are not referencing Sammy Wilson’s £2 Billion over a three year budgetary term.”

    I didn’t reference it Mick because I consider it yet more smoke and mirrors. To my understanding the £2Billion is for infrastructure upgrades.

    But lets discuss it, if it will cost £2Billion if its financed by Stormont, how much will it cost if its financed by private investors? more or less?

    Who will the bill be sent to?

  • Mick Fealty

    There are three models being discussed. All of them have different outcomes. If you float it off, the money comes from a place other than the pocket money/subvention pot.

    It’s a classic case of ‘if I was going to start from anywhere it would not be here’. Three years of acquiescence and faffing has left us in place where dipping out of the GoCo will impose huge short term costs whatever format is chosen.

    Also, I think what we’ve seen here is that NI Water was learning to drive the cost of suppliers down. Bringing everything inside will drive the costs up initially, before hopefully coming back down again.

    I’m all for discussing all of these matters, when it is clear there is a real debate going on inside government.

  • Dr Concitor

    Mick,
    Can I ask what my appear a rather naive question? Why do people talk about reversing the privatising of NIW? It is a Go Co owned by DRD ie the government not the private sector. Can this be sold without approval by the Assembly? People may not like the being left a done deal by the Brits and that particular why of running the water industry, but surely this could be sorted out by the Assembly(I think I am being naive here)
    I am amazed that you think that the minister has so little involvement. I bow to your superior knowledge.