NI Water: Senior executives failed to act on early signs of crisis…

One of the things that’s important to note is just how little experience in running a water utility remains at board level in Northern Ireland Water. When Minister Murphy sacked the last Board he cashiered a group of people who had some sixty years experience between them of working in the water industry. The new board has virtually none.

Mr MacKenzie, who himself had no experience of water before his appointment, having rid himself of that experience then proceeded to issue disciplinary proceedings against two of the only remaining members of the Board who had sufficient senior experience to take a water company effciently through a crisis of this magnitude.

As none of Mr Murphy’s replacement board had any substantial management experience in the water industry, none have been in a position to ask the right questions nor to provide senior counsel to what amounts to a fledgling industry CEO through this crisis.

This inexperience may well have been the reason that neither Mr MacKenzie, nor his former NIE colleague Sarah Venning, acted on significant warning signs on 21st December, when ‘No water’ calls rose from 138 on the 20th to 503 that following day. Complaints about low pressure rose more modestly (but still quite dramatically) from 47 to 70.

Under similar circumstances – a big freeze followed by an equally large thaw – in the past, this would have spurred the company to early action. It will cause some disquiet both inside and outside an organisation that has become a convenient kicking post, ever since Mr MacKenzie first tendered his resignation on 18th January this year to learn of this failure at leadership level in NI Water.

  • edgeoftheunion

    Strangely Mike McKimm does not agree with you.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-12094518

    “BBC NI Environment correspondent Mike McKimm said no-one presently employed by Northern Ireland Water could probably be blamed for what had happened.”

    I imagine that sentence will soon be edited.

    Niall Glynn’s piece refers to this study by ICE:

    http://www.ice.org.uk/getattachment/48749cf3-c81d-47e8-8637-c62a384c9f44/Challenging-the-Priorities–An-independent-Review-.aspx

    Which contains this priceless prediction.

    “NIW (and Water Service) has had a programme of staff downsizing over a number of years to reduce overheads and running costs. The number of professional staff, with experience in the capital delivery of water and sewerage projects and in the operation and maintenance of the assets, has reduced considerably over recent years.
    The acquired knowledge of professional and technical staff is an asset to be cherished in a customer service organisation.

    ICE is concerned that without recruitment, retention and succession planning NIW’s intelligent client status will be lost.”

  • Brian Walker

    I suppose thery’ll blame burst pipes within people’s property for the worst of the crisis, a point worth discussing. I’d also welcome detailed comparisons with handling in Scotland and the Republic and an answer to the question – why only now am I hearing advice to householders on how to deal with first the freeze and then the thaw?.

  • Also from Neil Glynn’s piece he quote either Mike McKimm (BBC) or Alan Strong (UU), “He said one question which did need answered was why so much water was allowed to escape from reservoirs before anyone noticed and why did alarms not literally sound at NIW headquarters?”

    Has anyone visited the control centres of NI Water?

  • joeCanuck

    A Chief executive of any organization should have a list of key indicators, 6 to 10 usually, which he or she needs to review first thing every day as an indication of the health of the organization. As Mick mentions above, one key indicator for a water company should be customer complaints about lack of water. A quadrupling in one day should have sent alarm bells ringing throughout the company. Can’t blame them for what mother nature did but they certainly can be blamed if there was an inadequate reponse. And contrary to where the government claims the buck stops, it is not the CEO but the head honcho, the Minister.

  • edgeoftheunion

    Let’s be honest

    If either the Minister or the CEO had said a week ago:

    “The Infrastructure is in a bad way, it has got down to -17, prepare yourselves for big trouble.”

    Would we be blaming them now?

    Here is the problem:

    Engineers are good at preventing or solving practical problems.

    They are utterly useless at promoting themselves or their profession.

    For Accountants or Journalists apply a Logical NOT to the above statements.

  • IJP

    Joe

    You’re right, but it’s even worse than that.

    When it got to minus double-figures, alarm bells should have been ringing too – because it was obvious that temperatures would soon return to normal, i.e. a sudden rise of 15 degrees or so. The CEO is blaming the weather – but it was entirely predictable.

    Of course, we have been left with a water company entirely unfit for purpose because of decisions the Minister made as well. The whole lot should go.

    I agree with Brian that individual properties (and overall investment in the infrastructure) are issues too, but they are slightly separate from the simple fact that we have an organisation delivering an essential public service which is entirely unfit to do so.

    The worst of it all is this: there is no reason to believe NI Water is the only public service delivery organisation in NI unfit for purpose. Therein lies the real medium-term issue in all of this.

  • pippakin

    Perhaps they did know they were on the edge of disaster but they had been riding their luck for so long they thought they would get away with it, and in a way they have got away with it. No one is going to pay. If the minister, who is technically ultimately responsible, resigns I shall be very surprised, why should he, he is not the only one who did nothing or worse over a long period.

    MMcG and PR have been making the right noises but there are no resignations or ‘fond farewells’ yet.

  • alan56

    The real ‘dereliction of duty’ was the lack of public information and pre-publicity of the danger ahead. There should have been a clear plan that would swing into action…more resources, people and equipment could have been put in place but it seems that did not happen. The management of NI Water must take the lions share of the blame but Minister Murphy is where the buck stops. Not his finest hour as Minister!

  • joeCanuck

    A system of government that does not allow for the removal of an incompetent Minister is also unfit for purpose.

  • Outcome of top level meeting. Was that it? It begs the question

    How many clubs has Peter Robinson in his bag?

  • Mick Fealty

    Can we get things in some order here. The minister is not responsible directly for the actual management of NI Water. There should be no question of his resigning.

    But this shambles has occured on his watch, and he obliged now to stop playing games and do something about it. Frankly, I have come to the point where I can’t believe anything the company say about this mess. And just as frankly, neither should he!

    The minister has paid too much mind to privatisation issue and not enough to the lack of leadership in NI Water. He too willingly sacked the experience from the Board (In my view on a falsified premise) and compounded the problem.

    He now has the perfect opportunity to fix it now (when it would be the popular thing to do) by making heads roll and giving the hard working staff of NI Water the kind of leadership they clearly deserve!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Can we get things in some order here. The minister is not responsible directly for the actual management of NI Water. There should be no question of his resigning.

    Mick, in your article above you seem to be implying that matters have been impeded by Murphy took a bull-in-a-china-shop approach to replacing most of the Board just under a year ago ?

    On another note, I was pondering a technical detail of the Assembly – ministers are nominated by the party leaders, and Gerry left a few weeks ago. It’s going to be difficult for SF’s election prospects in the RoI if Murphy leaves any time soon. SF will oppose this tooth and nail; I wonder if there will be a deal with the DUP to shut them up.

  • alan56

    Perhaps the Minister should not be thinking of resigning riight now. He will be judged,though, by what changes he makes. Surely he has been damaged?

  • edgeoftheunion

    It all reminds me of these words from another CEO of a large scale NI Engineering project which failed when subjected to sub-zero temperatures:

    “But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident… of any sort worth talking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and have never been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort”

    Capt E.J. Smith 1907
    Captain of the Titanic in 1912
    cited in “The Black Swan” N.N. Taleb 2007

  • Mick Fealty

    It was less a bull in a china shop than inattention to the practical implications of those actions. Far too much politicking, not enough (as the dissenter has put it on another thread) focus on service to the public.

    He won’t go, a) because there is no mechanism to force anyone out of the Stormont government for the incompetent handling of their brief; and b) as you point out it would not suit the party leader to lose someone as high profile as him in advance of the southern election. But also c), his head is not immediately the one that should be rolling for this.

    Owen Paterson’s intervention is ominous for the anti Water Charge lobby. It amounts to ‘we’ll give you all the help you need if you will only have the courage to make some tough political decisions’. The DUP can live with that, since they been consistent only in saying you cannot have water charges *and* a subvention from the public account. But SF?

    Finally, those who say that this crisis will be forgotten quickly as people get their water back on are probably right to suggest their will be limited political damage caused.

    But if there were to be a repeat of this fiasco in February, what then?

  • joeCanuck

    Mick,
    I don’t understand your point. Are you saying that the buck does stop with the CEO and Board and not the person they report to (presumably report to).

  • “The minister is not responsible directly for the actual management of NI Water.”

    Mick, that would depend on whether or not he acted in a managerial role in the NIW decision-making process. There was that September 2, 2009 meeting which dealt with Steria and PC10 business; Murphy, McGlade, Priestley, Patterson and MacKenzie were present.

  • Mick Fealty

    If he did he would have been acting beyond his competence. Have you any evidence he was? I certainly haven’t found it. And, to my knowledge, you’ve not produced anything like it.

  • Atticussed

    I believe the First Minister has described NI Water as “shambolic” and “not fit for purpose” – or was he talking about the Executive. Perhaps some of his Executive colleagues now take note of the recent actions of Stewart Stevenson MSP.

  • joeCanuck

    Presumably now, given the FM’s pronouncement, at least one senior executive’s mind is concentrating on his exit strategy rather than dealing with the emergency.

  • Cynic2

    ” least one senior executive’s mind is concentrating on his exit strategy”

    If they weren’t doing that already they weren’t very bright

  • shamie

    The decision of the company to blame the state of infrastructure is odd – did the current Chief and the former Board not fall out because he wanted to cut further and faster than they thought was sensible?

  • Cynic2

    OK so yesterday we had the posturing now lets ask the hard questions Minister

    1 what’s the scale of the problem
    2 what’s the Plan to fix it
    3 what are the time-scales

    Given the nature of the emergency, why is the Army not in pulling this all the water distribution together? Has the UK Government been asked for military or other support? If not, why not?

  • Mick, there’s not much to go on; the Committees AFAIK asked no questions and DRD allegedly kept neither notes nor minutes. All I’ve got is MacKenzie’s contribution some days later to his ET on 8 September 2009:

    Laurence MacKenzie reported on his recent meeting with the Minister and Permanent Secretary and said that they had expressed disappointment that NIW had not put a representative forward to comment on the recent flooding in East Belfast. It was established that the Alliance contract was giving some smaller contractors cause for concern. Laurence MacKenzie acknowledged that NIW must deliver efficiencies but said that a balance needed to be made with regard to timeframes if this was to be done correctly.

  • shamie, you can see from my 12:44 quote that the CEO appears to have been warning against drastic efficiency cuts.

  • Has anyone here noticed thewaterworker.com ? Often they are catching up with Slugger, but they also reveal some interesting internal workings of NI Water.

    (Examples:

    “Water Admin 6 on Saturday 04 December 2010 – 19:22:53
    I see we have a whole bunch of new starts, freshly arrived from Echo. I hope they’re members of a Trade Union, as I’ve a feeling they’re going to need one.”

    “whistleblower on Monday 08 November 2010 – 01:10:13
    LMcK and SV to have separate meetings with m and e industrial and non- industrial staff as the issues raised at recent meeting are only the tip of the ice berg. Staff fustrated with senior management , staff morale at all time low.”)

  • Mick Fealty

    @Dave. I noticed them early on in the story and mistaken thought they were new. It’s been around for a few years I think. They have been the bane of Mr MacK’s life, as I understand it.

    @Atticussed

    That could happen in an openly competitive political landscape where Scottish politicians can run foul of public outrage and suffer for it at the polls. But in our solid state democracy, there’s little enough critical examination of what our politicians actually do, or are responsible for (unless it’s handing out freebies, which case the power gets switched from ‘enemy’ Department to OFMdFM), it is unlikely.

  • shamie

    @Nevin. I see that, but I thought the nub of the fall out was that McK didn’t like being told that he was going too far on cuts…

    Or at least that was the premise if the Delargy investigation on UTV

  • DC

    There has been under-investment publicly and it is fair to say complete indecision and hesitation over privatisation, there was a good chance to get a better balance of public and private sourcing of funds – that option was apparently ruled out post local government return in 2007 – the NI Executive then failed to spot and permit in policy over time the need for steady but sharp increases in water rates. You can’t blame NI Water officials for that.

    In terms of privatisation to me that’s a policy battle that resides fully inside NI Executive, if there has been indecision about deploying a bit of private revenue to improve infrastructure then look no further.

    There is an unbroken thread of responsibility running right through this starting with NI regional government collectively, the minister and on down through to the officials in NI Water itself, the officials mainly for the delay in organasing people and resources during the lag time between hard freeze and fast thaw – they had about 2 weeks to do that (and as others on Slugger have pointed out the temperatures here were record lows).

    Don’t see how you can deny blaming the minister Mick whenever you seem to implicate him in switching and ditching certain Senior Board personnel, which must surely have knock on effects in terms operational performace of NI Water as a certain train of thought belonging to the more suitably skillled board has been disrupted if not wipted out because of it.

    Actually the more suitably skilled – according to you – have been removed without a suitable explanation from the minister.

    In terms of media and knock on effect for the politicians, don’t kid yourselves – it’s made national news countless days running and whenever you see middle-aged women crying on national TV there has to be some serious consequences further on down the pipe.

    Somebody else on Slugger also commented on Eamonn Mallie’s Twitter logs, saying he was out of touch about the impact – I agree, he is out of touch – clearly doesn’t have young children about him.

    But that’s journalists for you – they only write *of events* and are not *for events*.

    Wish we had some strong-minded and assertive people speaking out in local politics and up for events today. The speaking out has been somewhat mild-mannered and no parties can break ranks because – well – each and every party is in government and will likely be next term as well. Moral Hazard? Murphy resign? Why bother? The strange thing is it will be the act of statute in the form of forced coalition and d’Hondt that delivers SF – and the rest – a good government office, rather than any electoral force, which makes a bit of a mockery of the potency of democracy as a force for change.

    Not least the problems arising out of forced coalition namely it creating and maintaining a lot of ideological battles and policy stand-offs, whether in education provision or water service delivery – group think ruining delivery for many many thousands of individuals.

    NI Water is just another sorry tale in a long list of problem issues.

    How can there not be political opportunites today for alternative parties or persons not in government – and indeed there probably should be resignations because of it given the ministerial meddling in the operations of NI Water and failure to spot and argue for adequate resourcing of the water service itself?

    Money is money after all – and concepts aside – whether collect it privately or publicly – it’s still got to come flowing into the coffers regardless. Did that happen?

  • Mick Fealty

    @DC,

    I mentioned experience not skill. That’s a falsifiable claim, if you care to do your own desk research on the two boards.

    I’m not saying the minister has no questions to answer. But we’ve already had one counterproductive hillbilly lynching, no need to compound matters by calling for another without carefully considering the facts of the matter first.

  • New Yorker

    This event received a sizable article in today’s New York Times and five minutes on US nationwide evening news. The overall impression is of a dysfunctional place with a dismal government that is incapable of even maintaining an essential service. People who make international investment decisions prefer places where the taps work and the toilets flush. The reasonable conclusion from the reports is that Northern Ireland is not capable of self-government.

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, New Yorker, not a good advertisement.
    Now everyone seems to agree that the infrastructure needs major upgrades. That is going to cost money. Where will the money come from? Well, sorry, money doesn’t grow on trees. There can be only one payer; the public. The longer the government delays raising the money, the more it will cost and the more misery people may have to endure. The so-called government isn’t fit for purpose.

  • pippakin

    I’m not sure, perhaps someone can explain, when did the days of ministerial responsibility go down the toilet?

  • Kaido

    Are there too many vacant houses where water is leaking. Would we not be better off if these were paying rates then at least negligent landlords would be contributing to the cost of water repair.
    We must also proceed with getting metered water as soon as possible and the failure to implement these two measures shows either a lack of forward thinking or an executive that are still very keen to make sure that their developer chums are not out of pocket under any circumstances.

  • Neil

    People who make international investment decisions prefer places where the taps work and the toilets flush. The reasonable conclusion from the reports is that Northern Ireland is not capable of self-government.

    Hi New Yorker. It takes a long time spending a lot of money in order to bring antiquated water and sewage systems up to scratch. Our politicians here have had 10 years and whatever money Westminster gives them to do what little they’ve done.

    It would be a stretch to sell our politician’s achievements over the past ten years as some kind of unprecedented success, but really our current government have been drip fed bits and pieces of power over ten years, the real problems were based in decades of under-investment by the prior government – Westminster and the parties in power in Britain.

    What they do to remedy the situation would be a better test, but to say Northern Ireland is not capable of self-government implies that the Westminster government did a fantastic job up until they handed power to the locals and within ten years the water mains crumbled. Westminster is at least as responsible for the lack of investment which I would imagine is at a similarly low level now as it was back then.

  • joeCanuck

    Neil,
    That may be fair comment but you’re looking backwards. For how many years now has the N.I. government been delaying implementation of charges which would provide the money for investment in the infrastructure? When will they make the investment? Going to Westminster with a begging bowl won’t cut it, especially now with the straits they are in.

  • Neil

    I don’t disagree Joe. I found McGuinness’ whinge the other day as irritating as anyone, something along the lines of ‘I look forward to seeing the well-heeled decide voluntarily to pay water charges’. Ridiculous. Make the well heeled pay water charges, you’re the politician.

    I don’t think that water charges across the board will work, as poverty is biting more people every month, unemployment’s rising faster here than anywhere else etc. But anyone who can afford a house worth 250k or more should be able to lay their hands on 500 quid over the space of a year.

    That’s what I said – what they do next would be a better test on which to judge our politicians. I’m not confident that we’ll be impressed. I do believe that our politicians are scared shitless of the electorate and won’t do anything they see as unpopular even when they should, but fair’s fair. Give them a chance first, they can’t be blamed, totally anyway, for the situation as it stands. Largely they inherited it, and have done little to improve matters other than calling time on the troubles and posing for cross community ‘chuckle brothers’ style photo ops.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “But anyone who can afford a house worth 250k or more should be able to lay their hands on 500 quid over the space of a year”

    Depends whether they paid £250k for it…

  • shamie

    Once again Slugger goes down the cul-de-sac. We’re sitting here debating the fine points of representative democracy while a guy is sitting on a quarter of a MILLION pounds per year who plainly just hasn’t done his job and he’s effectively ignored!

    We get the politicians we deserve.

  • Mick Fealty

    Neil,

    In this case, the politician with the power to act decisively is and has been from the onset of devolution, Conor Murphy.

    He needs to take a determined view of what’s gone wrong and act decisively, or rather to compel the board to act decisively on his instructions as the sole shareholder!

  • @DC said, “The speaking out has been somewhat mild-mannered and no parties can break ranks because – well – each and every party is in government and will likely be next term as well.”

    There is one exception to that. The Green Party is not in the government, and for years has had policies in favour of water metering (with subsidies for the poor), reducing leaks, and improving the infrastructure.

  • Comrade Stalin

    New Yorker :

    People who make international investment decisions prefer places where the taps work and the toilets flush. The reasonable conclusion from the reports is that Northern Ireland is not capable of self-government.

    I suppose that means that California isn’t capable of self government and indeed several states on the US eastern seaboard are equally incapable of self government, yes ?

    Let’s have a bit of perspective here. Now and again you get screwups in government. Nobody is perfect. You can’t reasonably expect people to get things right all the time. What you can do is ensure that steps are taken to ensure the problems don’t recur.

    Neil:

    I don’t think that water charges across the board will work, as poverty is biting more people every month, unemployment’s rising faster here than anywhere else etc.

    You’re basically saying here that you can’t tax people because of poverty. This is too simplistic, indeed it completely ignores the role of the welfare state. The UK has a relatively low tax base and NI pays lower regional/local taxes and no water charges. Why should we get special treatment ? There are other regions of the UK that have as much poverty as we do, yet they pay the council taxes and water charges. Scotland pays water charges as well. Other European states have a much higher tax take than we do in general. That’s why their public transport, utilities and other services work so well.

    Clearly if the charges are introduced then, as with the current rates relief scheme, the welfare state should cover those who are without the means to pay. That does leave the question of what happens to people who find themselves asset-rich; we can easily fix that by having a rule that says that the value of your principle residence – within reason – will not be accounted for when considering eligibility to have the charges covered.

  • The Raven

    Stalin – I’d be in favour of paying a one-off meter installation charge, to have access to metered payment. This is not because I happen to live on my own – it’s because I see it wasted hand-over-fist in most homes. Water is a resource – I think only now a few people are beginning to realise what life is like without it.

    That said, how bad IS the “situation”, when under normal circumstances, you can pour a glass of water and flush the loo 365 days a year without loss of service? I certainly cannot remember the last time I did without a water supply before this episode.

    Rumours on Twitter of a resignation this afternoon? First casualties or just rumours?

  • Raven, this from Stephen Nolan:

    “StephenNolan Stephen Nolan
    Don’t 4get minister Conor murphy told nolan 24hours ago he had full confidence in ni water chief exec& it would b wrong to blame him..watch!”

  • William Markfelt

    ‘have done little to improve matters other than calling time on the troubles’

    Liam Mulholland isn’t calling time on the troubles. According to him it’s the fault of the troubles why there’s underinvestment. Which may or may not be the case, but there’s a statute of limitations on making this sound valid, much like Labour blaming the Tories for things that went on 11 years prior. It doesn’t actually, ah, hold water after a period of time.

    It’s rather like they’re splashing around, more drowning than waving, and seeking to blame anyone else. There has already been some discussion on these threads about how it’s been exceptionally cold and not particularly anyone’s fault and calls for heads to roll is ‘hysteria’. That works both ways too. There’s also a point where we get pissed off listening to NIW looking for someone to blame.

    Given the perceived politics of the minister and some of the NEDs, it’s all rather amusing to watch NIW executives obliquely blame the IRA.

  • Cynic2

    I agree with DC. The problem isn’t just NIW – its the whole structure and efficiency of Government.

    1

  • Cynic2

    I agree with DC. The problem isn’t just NIW – its the whole structure and efficiency of Government.

    1 more and more Departments work as silos led by competing Ministers. Cuts will intensify this

    2 the Senior Civil Service is generally old male white under skilled and introverted. New ideas are excluded, especially if they come from the UK/Ireland (depending upon the Minister in charge)

    3 Ministers then rely on SpAds who are party hacks

    None of this should be difficult. Stormont is basically a medium sized county council – just an over managed and badly run one

  • I know that there’s less interest in the subject if there isn’t a political scalp in the offing, but the management of NIW is a very clear example of how some areas of the civil service are almost impregnable to political direction.

    Politicians don’t have the resources or capacity to manage departments in the way that their French or American counterparts do and Murphy’s biggest sin appears to be that he didn’t assume everything that his officials have been telling him has been misleading.

    In addition, the lack of experience of directors at NIW can be explained by the almost universal embrace of the bizzare cult of managerialism – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Managerialism – something that Conor Murphy clearly has been party to – along with almost every leading political party in the UK and Northern Ireland.

  • Cynic2

    Not sure I agree Paul. I think the problem is that NI Ministers still all have L Plates on as Ministers. Some are getting to grips with it, some are dismally bad.

    I also cannot really think of one of them that has run any substantial organisation (apart from a terrorist / organised crime one)

  • Mick, you got to get the reply to points back.

    “Can we get things in some order here. The minister is not responsible directly for the actual management of NI Water. There should be no question of his resigning.”

    That would be more true if it were not for the stories of the past year where DRD has been clearly seen to be involved in the direct ‘management’ of issues relating to the board and governance. Can’t have it both ways. And what of the new non-Execs? Strangely silent over the past few days.

    With response to the ‘unprecedented’ snow on the roads and now the response to the ‘unprecedented’ thaw there is every reason to consider whether Murphy is up to the job.

  • The Rime of the Antrim Plumber

    Water, water, everywhere,
    And all the boards did shrink;
    Water, water, everywhere,
    Nor any drop to drink, to bathe, to cleanse, to waste

    apologies to Coleridge

  • Comrade Stalin

    Murphy’s biggest sin appears to be that he didn’t assume everything that his officials have been telling him has been misleading.

    The accusation of misleading a Minister is to the most severe kind of professional misconduct allegation that can be levelled against a civil servant, and I’m pretty sure that as a direct violation of the civil service code, it’s sackable offence. What evidence do you have that this took place ?

  • New Yorker

    Neil, you say, “Westminster is at least as responsible for the lack of investment which I would imagine is at a similarly low level now as it was back then.” NI gets a subvention from Westminster. If it was not deployed properly, it is not Westminster’s fault.

    Comrade, “Let’s have a bit of perspective here.” OK. You have a grossly unbalanced economy and Stormont has done nothing about it. You have a dangerous security situation with terrorists running about and Stormont has done nothing about it. The educational system is being dumbed down. Roads and rail are substandard. Rates go up and services go down. You have an Executive that does not execute. And over 6,000 people cannot get water to make a cup of tea. Your government is like an old banger of a car, sputtering and looking for a ditch to die in. It is past time to put it on the scrap heap. The devolution experiment has failed and the water crisis is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

  • The Raven

    “You have an Executive that does not execute.”

    See, the threat of some sort of yellow card thing and a great act of self-imposed control, prevents me from saying anything more… 🙂

  • The Raven

    Though in answer to this…

    “The devolution experiment has failed and the water crisis is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

    …I wouldn’t say that the devolution experiment has failed. More so the people that have been voted in again. And again. And again. etc.

  • New Yorker

    Raven, Perhaps the devolution experiment should be put off 20-30 years and in the meantime hopefully better politics would develop. I agree that present office-holders are useless, so a period in which the old parties and politicians can melt away and something new and better, reflecting the needs and concerns of NI people, will come about. Frankly, I do not think the present crew can do anything other than contribute to the decline of NI.

  • Cynic2

    “most severe kind of professional misconduct”

    …… for a Civil Servant but the staff here aren’t civil servants – they are employed by a Public Company

  • Mick Fealty

    CS, the Dixon letter!?