NI Water late to access Water UK help

As the water crisis rumbles on the political arguments continue fairly unabated. The latest attacks on Conor Murphy have centred around the failure of NI Water to ask Water UK for help until yesterday. Water UK is the organisation which oversees support for UK water companies in crises. The News Letter is carrying the story today and claims that Water UK was understood to be surprised that NI Water had asked for so little help, so late.

From the News Letter:.

Jim Marshall, policy and business advisor at UK Water, confirmed that it had only been approached yesterday by NI Water: “We’ve been working today to use the scheme to send additional call centre staff.

“Water UK got involved today following a specific approach from NI Water. We can provide anything really – physical assets like tankers or smaller bowsers, bottled water supplies, or as in this case specialist personnel. It can be anything that’s needed.”

Murphy has denied that the failure to ask Water UK previously is related to his political views: he pointed out that the water sent from Scotland was part of the scheme and the decisions regarding asking water UK were taken by NI Water.

Meanwhile UTV are reporting one of the ousted NI Water non executive directors Declan Gormley who said: “A board with 70 years experience has been replaced with one that has limited – perhaps no – experience,” Mr Gormley told UTV. “The minister made and approved those appointments so clearly the responsibility rests with him.”

The SDLP mayor of Belfast, Pat Convery said the Department of Regional Development did not take on board warnings that a severe weather task force was needed.
“My colleagues in Stormont suggested a severe weather task force and unfortunately the DRD minister on two occasions dismissed that idea. “Now we know the consequences of ignoring such a proposal.”

Murphy is now in a significant degree of difficulty. Whilst he can receive some criticism for not preparing a severe weather task force, that is far from a resigning issue. He cannot be blamed for the weather. It is difficult to pin much personal blame on him for the failure to invest in infrastructure over the years; though the terrorist campaigns of which he was part did result in less money for investment. However, that line is again difficult to use unless one objects to SF in power on principle.

In addition NI Water is indeed independent from the government and hence, despite being government owned the government does not run its affairs. Here is, however, of course where Mr. Murphy’s ability to avoid responsibility begins to flounder. Despite being an arms length body it was none other than Conor Murphy who dismissed the board of NI Water in circumstances which now seem much more problematic than they did at the time. When all that came to light Murphy used the permanent secretary Paul Priestly as his scape goat and Murphy seemed to escape relatively unscathed.

That this latest debacle also relates to NI Water is unfortunate for Murphy and it limits his ability to claim that the issues are not under his direct responsibility. Such a contention may have some truth but it lacks credibility or consistency when Murphy was so recently, so publicly, and so unfortunately involved in NI Water’s affairs.

His claim that the late decision to involve Water UK is one taken by NI Water is also extremely problematic. Conor Murphy and indeed Martin McGuinness have supposedly been taking charge of this issue for days; yet claim that the decision to access the resources of Water UK is one for NI Water.

Jim Allister has been calling for Murphy to resign: that much is hardly surprising. Today Sammy Wilson added to these calls (again fairly unsurprising: and he added a quick dig about climate change).

The politics of Murphy resigning might be difficult. If Murphy did resign he could be seen to be doing the honourable thing; he would spike the other parties attacks on him (and indeed SF collectively) for supposedly not taking responsibility. In addition Sinn Fein could then wheel in another minister to take charge and potentially gain some of the credit for fixing the situation when it is finally resolved. Raising the profile of another Sinn Fein member with such a success could be useful for the party. Ironically by resigning Murphy might be able to help Sinn Fein and make them out to be a responsible party of government: something which would be unlikely to hurt them in the coming RoI elections.

Set against that Murphy resigning could be seen as Sinn Fein admitting that they got it wrong: something the republican movement has rarely been fond of (nor have many other NI politicians, that said). In addition it could be seen as SF capitulating to the demands of the other parties. The other parties would claim that senior SF member had had to resign due to incompetence. Furthermore they would then point to Ruane and ask why she had not gone too. Whether or not the dismissal of Murphy would also upset the balance of power within the wider republican movement, is of course another consideration. However since internal politics within republicanism is always played out behind closed doors, it is most unlikely that any outsiders will be able to give any constructive views on that. Sinn Fein might be wise, however, at least to consider that a ministerial resignation is not always a bad idea and someone falling on their own sword can at times be for the greater good of the party. Sacrificing people for the greater good has always been something the republican movement have well understood and frequently practised: that in this case such a sacrifice would be non fatal should not make SF think that it is, by definition, a bad idea politically.

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  • JAH

    “Set against that Murphy resigning could be seen as Sinn Fein admitting that they got it wrong: something the republican movement has rarely been fond of (nor have many other NI politicians, that said)”

    “To err is human, to forgive is divine”

    Alexander Pope

    A mature party can sometimes act in way that makes them more admired rather way less.

  • danidiot

    Before the thaw, wasnt the shambles over gritting the pavements of our towns and villages also within the remit of the incompetent Murphy?

  • DC

    Rather than boost the morale in the concept of socialised services – such as publicly owned water, Sinn Fein has ruined it.

    Has there been too much groupthink over individualism – that is to say too much appointing of people in Murphy’s political in-group – like newspaper men with Gaelic names placed onto NI Water Senior Board – rather than say taking care to ensure that the people with the right skills and experience are sought and brought on board to run water services for *everyone* – on an individual basis.

    Sinn Fein’s refusal to resign over education and now this water disaster could be proof in part that they are quickly turning the NI regional government into one big vested interest; the State as a vested interest?

    Let me see – Murphy protects his men – while the public pays regardless; Ruane ruins education while the public pays for it regardless.

    Sinn Fein wont sack anyone or do anything about it.

    Is the NI State fast becoming a vested interest – falling prey to groupthink – and for the benefit of personal (power) enrichment of its political cronies and groupthinkers – while the public pays for failure.

    Whether the revenue needed to improve water infrastructure is raised publicly or privately, the public will pay for this one way or another (unless Westminster bails NI out); but still Sinn Fein allows a lot of power and responsibility to be concentrated in the very same hands that have presided over policy and administrative failures.

    Has Sinn Fein turned the State into a vested intersts – you decide:

    vested interest
    n.
    1. Law A right or title, as to present or future possession of an estate, that can be conveyed to another.

    2. A fixed right granted to an employee under a pension plan.

    3. A special interest in protecting or promoting that which is to one’s own personal advantage.

    4. vested interests Those groups that seek to maintain or control an existing system or activity from which they derive private benefit.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Like Robbo before him, Murphy will don his D’hondt safety cloak until the fuss has died down.

  • Turgon

    Water water everywhere is a problem and not just a tale of an old marinere. Though we could look to China or Israel to see the problems a lack of water brings, Britain, what you call the mainland, is illustrative enough. It can be difficult enough shunting water from England’s east to England’s West, for example. It is a complicated business needing professionals not Sinn Fein appointees.
    You argue that Sinn Fein’s lack of any form of (legal) managerial experience is not an issue. That is not so. One either trusts the experts, defers to them whilst getting them to comply, or one takes the Sinn Fein Ourselves Alone route. Sinn Fein are talentless.
    The Sinn Fein mode is they bark out orders and others comply or face the consequences. They got rid of whatever expertise was in NI Water so that they could be seen to be barking their orders like SS guards in a concentration camp. Unfortunately for the Sinn Fein mode of management, you cannot sit on managers. You have to let them get on with it.
    Sinn Fein might make for a good pack of concentration camp type dogs , good for cowering people into line. But for actually getting anything done, they are useless. They do not even bite the British hand that feeds them as that takes a bit of training. They are a sad joke.
    You say that McGuinness and Murphy took over the water show for the last few days. But to what end? What edge would they have that Coco the clown would not have? Shout? Bark? Sack people?
    McGuinness and Adams (the guy fleeing over the border to Slab Murphy’s Louth stomping ground) should take their Westminster seats, stand on their hind legs and BEG David Cameron to bail them out once again. If you or anyone else can suggest anything better they can do, you are either a PSF propagandist, which you are not, or someone who lives in fantasy land where the Provos’ expertise is rooted.

    ps: good posts above. PSF are a joke. Louth watch out. The Terminator is on his silent way.

  • tacapall

    What a bunch of opportunists, playing to the gallery like snake oil salesmen with magic remedies when in reality its just anti Sinn Fein rhetoric. The British Government and Unionists have known for almost a decade that NIW antiquated infrastructure needed updating but did nothing now that its been exposed as being inadequate for the unprecedented cold tempertures we have experienced the anti Sinn Fein brigade attempt to use it as a stick to beat Conor Murphy while conveniently ignoring the failings of NIHE and private landlords who refused to take thousands of tennants calls for help with burst pipes flooding their homes.

  • SoS intervenes again:

    Secretary of State Owen Paterson, who has been in Northern Ireland since Christmas Eve, was involved in securing the aid from Water UK and last night said more was available, if NI Water requested it. News Letter link above.

  • Turgon

    tacapall,
    Some pretty fair points. There are, however, a few problems Sinn Fein and Conor Murphy have trouble avoiding. They were also aware of the underinvestment in NI Water (and if they were not what was Murphy doing, not knowing?)

    Hence, SF in general and Murphy in particular cannot come out of this with clean hands.

    All the parties have opposed water charges so SF alone cannot be blamed for underinvestment. Again, however, Conor Murphy is ultimately responsible for NI Water. If he did not know about the underinvestment, then that is incompetence as he should have known. If he did know and yet did not instruct anyone to seek to obtain investment by some route that is also incompetence.

    On the substance of the current issue (Water UK): Murphy supposedly took charge a number of days ago yet no immediate approach was made to UK Water. Again if he had taken charge and had not attempted to procure UK Water’s help that is again incompetence.

    Having power and control also involves taking responsibility. Murphy is claiming to have taken control of the situation: therefore whether he likes it or not he has also taken responsibility.

  • Comrade Stalin

    tacapall:

    The British Government and Unionists have known for almost a decade that NIW antiquated infrastructure needed updating but did nothing

    So why didn’t Murphy know after being in the job for three years ?

    I don’t agree with the lynch mob stuff going on here but likewise there’s no point in being psychofantic over it.

  • In Scotland, Stewart Stevenson resigned over the snow debacle. In Britain, Vince Cable is an ace from the boot. Even in the USA, disgraced and incompetent politicians have to go. In Dublin, the rabble roar at the Leinster House leaders to resign. Everywhere, politiicans must take responsibility – except if they are demobbed paramilitaries with their snouts in the Stormont trough.
    In soccer, managers get the boot if their teams do not perform. In Stormont, members of Sinn Fein,can, in between campaigning for FARC training officers, wreck the capital and social infrastructure and still continue at jobs they are patently unqualified to have. Not only should Conor Murphy go but Sinn Fein should admit that they are unfit for purpose and go with him back into the netherworld wilderness from which they came.

  • Comrade Stalin

    psychofantic duh, I meant sycophantic. One day I’ll beat syldexia!

  • Comrade Stalin

    still continue at jobs they are patently unqualified to have.

    What qualifications do you think Ministers should have as a prerequisite ?

  • tacapall

    Turgon I have no doubt Conor Murphy failed in some aspects of his remit, if outside help was needed then he sould have asked irregardless of where it came from as he has no problems taking his wages from Westminister.

    Comrade Stalin Im hardly psychofantic I dont even support Sinn Fein but I did see at first hand dozens of families who had to endure days of no water, no heating and no electric because of flooding in their homes because no one out of the NIHE would answer their calls for help. Indeed why did Conor Murphy not know after three years, probably the same as Peter Robinson wasn’t he in Murphy’s job before him.

  • DC

    What a bunch of opportunists, playing to the gallery like snake oil salesmen with magic remedies when in reality its just anti Sinn Fein rhetoric.

    And you don’t think that’s because pro-Sinn Fein policies have played their part in this?

    No to additional monies for water – either publicly or privately?

    Education – Ruane trying to punch a comprehensive policy through many communities despite a lack of support from them – and indeed other forms of political resistance?

    In relation to water – Murphy in his rush for “equality” seems to have created a Senior Water Board that looks like a repetition of style and governance belonging to the old inequalities days of big house Unionism – those discriminatory – NI Parliament days.

    Give the people on the street one minute to decide whether a newspaper man should be on the senior board of NI Water, or in the circumstances offer them the option of a private company – without political group think in delivery of the actual *service* – and it shouldn’t take them too long to decide.

    I suppose Murphy could resign and legislate to let Scottish Water take over if he wants to try and keep things publicly run.

  • ranger1640

    In simultaneous press conferences, Martin McGuinness with Conor Mourphy in Belfast and Gerry Adams with Caitriona Ruane in county Louth. Announced that both Sinn Fein ministers Murphy and Ruane have increased tractor production by 500% and wheat by a 1000%. Both ministers are said to be delighted with the work of their ministries.

  • Cynic2

    “Secretary of State Owen Paterson, who has been in Northern Ireland since Christmas Eve”

    ……………………… unlike our own First Minister who was sunning himself at one of his houses – in Florida or the Beloved Bearded One

    “more (aid) was available, if NI Water requested it”

    …. yet still it hasn’t and now more houses are to be cut off tonight

  • Cynic2

    By the way, the editorial line of the Andytown News on all this will be a delight to see. At the moment its online site is still bemoaning that the posting date for Christmas cards to Ireland is longer than for addresses the UK. They might have noticed a few problemettes around West Belfast or are their offices just flooded and they cant change the site?

  • 1. Comrade Stalin : What qualifications do you think Ministers should have as a prerequisite ?
    In practice, this depends on the type of system operating. In the 26 cos, FF and the others have had to spread the largesse around, boosting their chances in marginal constituencies by taking a minister from there. The British system has not been that much different. One thing, however, with established parties is they bring experienced mates with them as helpers etc. And sometimes as players. In England, they would get guys from the City in for example. We can think of JFK and McNamara, who applied his IBM expertise to killing Vietnamese as a good example. Vince Cable, who is under some pressure now, has the problem that he came from being a marginal freak to being a minister without mates to guide him. But he will go into oblivion when Labour sweep back in.
    Now no one would argue that Conor Murphy or Martin McGuinness are the sharpest knives in The Apprentice Butchers’ shops. But they have no one to guide them and hold and steady their hands wqhen they slice and slash. So, like Robert Mugabe, they get power (of a sort in their case) and like Mugabe, they are tribal and incompetent. And like Mugabe or any others with despotic, democratic centralist tendencies, they stuff things up.
    Revolution might be fine and good. But some things have to evolve. Power and experience are some of those things that cannot be smuggled over a South Armagh border in a pig truck. The Tory government can suffer to carry a few fools and so can all others when there is an established and settled order of things. But, as in the six counties, when the lunatics take over the asylum, when the kids take over the candy shop, when the Provos get their snouts in, bad things follow in water, as in education as in all else.
    That is why direct rule is better. Why have Provo middle managers when they are only there for show, when they only exist to keep the rabble restive. The Provos are the opiate of the people and Rip van Winkle would make a more alert and more competent minister than any of them.
    Indeed, thinking of Mr van Winkle, the great James Connolly once quipped that if the Dutch ruled Ireland, they would feed Europe and if the Irish ruled Holland, they would all drown. No doubt he had the Conor Murphys and Martin McGuinnesses of his day in mind for Connolly was not only a rebel but, as we now plainly see in the four drowned fields of Ireland, a prophet as well.

  • tacapall

    DC. This is about Conor Murphy and NIW what has Ruane got to do with it other than using anything to beat Sinn Fein with, by the way on the subject of – “Ruane trying to punch a comprehensive policy through many communities despite a lack of support from them – and indeed other forms of political resistance” The only people who oppose her is Unionist Politicians who have the attitude ” If themuns want it then we oppose it” the Middle and Upper classes who can afford tuition fees etc for their little Tristians. Im sure if you went into any working class loyalist community they would agree the 11 plus should be scrapped.

    I agree Martin O Millioniare should never have been appointed to the board, maybe it was to dip our toes in the water for NIW to be privatised after all have Sinn Fein not got their own bottled water that they sell.

  • Cynic2

    ” people who oppose her is Unionist ”

    1 “are unionist”

    2 you may recall a consultation exercise among parents the majority of whom across the board opposed what she is doing

  • pippakin

    If anyone was going to resign they would have done so. Now everything is going to wait until after the enquiry which probably means no one is going to resign.

    To be fair SF are not the only party who don’t do resignations. I’ve been trying to think of a politician who resigned because he was publicly, obviously incompetent. I can’t think of anyone except the Scottish minister, even two shining examples like Cowen and Lenihan are waiting to be booted out rather than doing the decent thing….

  • tacapall

    Cynic2

    “you may recall a consultation exercise among parents the majority of whom across the board opposed what she is doing”

    Show the evidence.

  • Cynic2

    Tacapall

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/publications/updates/update16.PDF

    Vast majority of parents in favour of academic selection

  • Cynic2

    ” what has Ruane got to do with it ”

    …….. she is just an exemplar for incompetence

  • tacapall

    Cynic what percentage of the population responded to the survey you’re talking about – 16% and no figures for the other and you call that a majority LOL

  • The Word

    A nice try, Turgon, but unionism’s promptings are hardly going to guide Sinn Fein. They’ll probably think you’re really trying to retain Conor Murphy for some reason.

    A few months back he was the only one who seemed to have any degree of competence in the Sinn Fein side including Martin McGuinness, but these revelations about the old board and the recent disasters show that what we’re dealing with here isn’t far from Alan Maskey’s extreme views on Sinn Fein.

    I hope Labour and FF are noting this expression of a party with sheer neck and no pants, and that the SDLP are sharpening their antennae.

  • Cynic2

    Tacapall

    What % voted for Catatonia’s party? LOL

  • Cynic2

    My statistic is bigger than your statistic!!!!!!!

  • Mark

    The SDLP couldn’t sharpen a pencil . They have been the Nationalist Community’s insignificant other for years . All they do now is bitch and winge . Nobody listens to them anymore.

    This fiasco with the water is the acid test for the executive . A head must roll if they are to be taken seriously . They can’t start playing ” you stratched my back last year ” Mr Mackenzie should walk the plank before he’s asked to fall on his sword or get on his knees .

  • Mark

    A political party should always be looking to it’s youth . There are a generation of young people who are now tempted to enter politics for a number of reasons – the ” if he/she can do it , so can I ” attitude or the historical calling or family ties . In the south, the party best positioned to offer these people a chance are Sinn Fein . Their ground level politics can’t be matched by the other parties . Sinn Fein have impressed young first time voters with their community work like cleaning up the drug areas and holding boxing clinics for troubled kids . They are admired for the work they do with the travellers and their ” no job is too big “attitude will absolutely get them votes in the next election .

  • The Word

    Mark

    “The SDLP couldn’t sharpen a pencil”

    LOL

    Is that the same SDLP that has been supplying Sinn Fein policy positions for the last 20 years. The best predictor of tomorrow’s Sinn Fein policy is today’s SDLP position!

  • The Word

    Mark

    “a generation of young people who are now tempted to enter politics for a number of reasons – the ” if he/she can do it , so can I ” attitude ”

    Or – if he can get the average industrial wage for doing those great deeds – aka abusing communities – I’m all on for it. Better than the dole any day.

  • Reader

    Comrade Stalin: psychofantic duh, I meant sycophantic. One day I’ll beat syldexia!
    No need, you have created exactly the right new word for the SF fan club.

  • Mark

    You seem to have abusing on the brain .

  • Mark

    The Word ,

    My last comment was a cheap shot . I apologise .

  • Comrade Stalin

    tacapall:

    Comrade Stalin Im hardly psychofantic I dont even support Sinn Fein

    Yes, but you said above that the British and the unionists already knew about all these problems and you implied that there was some sort of conspiracy to keep it in the dark. That’s the kind of talk that comes from SF sycophants.

    It’s not the fault of partition, the Brits, the Orange Order, the H-Blocks, the FRU, the SAS, the “securocrats”, or Special Branch. It’s probably not exclusively the fault of Conor Murphy. Hopefully in the coming weeks the facts will become clear.

    alan:

    1. Comrade Stalin : What qualifications do you think Ministers should have as a prerequisite ?
    In practice, this depends on the type of system operating.

    The system operating is called “democracy” where government officials are drawn from those chosen by the electorate. You can’t apply “qualifications” after that. If you managed to get yourself elected and stay there, then you’re qualified.

    Vince Cable, who is under some pressure now, has the problem that he came from being a marginal freak to being a minister without mates to guide him.

    You do realize that if your rules were applied, Tony Blair wouldn’t be qualified to be PM ? Blair was less experienced than Cable was at the time he took office. Actually while I’m at it I’m pretty sure this rules out Cameron as well. His rise was even more rapid than Blair’s, the man has barely been in the Commons.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Catriona Ruane’s crowning achievement was to take start out from a scenario where most teachers, and a lot of parents, wanted the selection system abolished, and end up in a situation where they all hate her. It’s not just incompetence as a Minister, it’s extraordinarily bad politics.

    Reader:

    Well spotted, I did not see that until you pointed it out. I like it 🙂

    The Word :

    Is that the same SDLP that has been supplying Sinn Fein policy positions for the last 20 years. The best predictor of tomorrow’s Sinn Fein policy is today’s SDLP position!

    Given that SF seem to manage to win the votes, what are you trying to persuade everyone of ? That the SDLP is good with ideas but crap at winning elections ?

  • tacapall

    Comrade Stalin Its about honesty and lets be honest, this witch hunt around Conor Murphy conveniently ignores the the roles of others in this situation whitch not only includes the social devolopment minister but the health minister also via the Irish news, that burst pipes in the Royal Victoria Hospital accounted for a massive loss of water along with the thousands of tenants who tried to get through to emergency lines to NIHE but were unanswered and their homes were left flooding for days.

  • Mick Fealty

    You do have a point re the NIHE. Their worst point was during the holidays. The most I did then was to retweet one of the Maskeys who noticed the massive rise in calls.

    But it’s interesting that Mr Murphy refused to agree to a review of cold weather precautions BEFORE Xmas by Attwood. Given the Meterological Office forecasts are now accurate for up to a month beforehand this looks like a serious dereliction of duty now.

    Also, beware anyone offering us a comprehensive reason for the collapse of the water system that shifts the blame elsewhere; you don’t drain whole reservoirs from domestic pipes.

    They simply aren’t fat enough.

    The damage here is not that the disaster happened (had the pipes been made of the same modern plastic materials the stupidly profitable water monopolies in England have laid down, none of this would have happened in the first place), but the flat footed response to it.

    As an aside, can we lay off Mairtin? Not only do I believe the minister had good reason for appointing him, I also suspect there would not have been this kind of comms Disaster had he still been in place.

    That said, the Ministers precipitive action in getting rid of an experienced board leaving a highly inexperienced CEO in charge was negligent in the extreme.

    I further suspect that the indefensible sacking of the last board created the subsequent difficulties in getting any industry competent candidates to put their hands up for the job!

    Murphy will be effectively sacked from the post when SF relinguish the DRD job after May. It wasn’t an impossible brief but it required an activist minister to get some things done, not just take his Perm Secs word for everything.

    Regional Development needs a change in personnel and independent political direction. And Sinn Fein need to dump this Yes man attitude and turn what is little more than ideological talking points into actionable policy.

    Spare us all the anti SF rhetoric. No other party gets away with so consistently branding their critics as political enemies. Thats the old (paranoid?) paramilitary way of doing things. It’s simp not fit for purpose any more.

    The party can only get better when it begins to embrace criticism and enhances it’s performance in government.

    Already PearseDoherty is streets ahead of the whole northern front bench, bar McGuinness (and O’Dowd). But you can’t rely on such a thin pool of talent for without promoting more of it from within.

  • 241934 john brennan

    M.F
    “Already PearseDoherty is streets ahead of the whole northern front bench, bar McGuinness (and O’Dowd). But you can’t rely on such a thin pool of talent for without promoting more of it from within.”

    Sure he spoke well against the government’s budget in the South. Had he been the northern SF spokesman, on the very same subject in Stormont, would he not have spoken passionately in favour of budget cuts?

    “The politician tops his part,
    Who really can lie with art.”

  • slappymcgroundout

    “Given the Meterological Office forecasts are now accurate for up to a month beforehand this looks like a serious dereliction of duty now.”

    1) no weather forecast is accurate to a month out. From weatheronline.co.uk:

    The accuracy of weather forecasts however, falls significantly beyond about 10 days.

    Mick, so you know, and this applies to the global warming discussion as well, weather forecasts and/or climate models are much like the models used by finance. They attempt to model a highly complex non-linear system. How did the finance model(s) work out?

    Oh, from back in 05:

    Amid criticism from academic researchers and rival forecasters, the state weather agency confirmed yesterday that its popular online five-day weather service, used by thousands to plan their weekend activities, cannot be relied on to give an accurate forecast.

    They didn’t go to fixing the 5 day forecast all the way out to 30 days in 5 years. Likely never will. Remember, Mick, if a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil…

    2) the BBC reports that your December weather is the worst weather you’ve had in 100 years. So it’s a 100 year event and if you would read your homeowner’s insurance policy, you’ll see under “Exclusions” the one reading “act of God.” For how much “act of God”, November brought your lowest night temperature on record.

    3) I get Turgon’s point about not making use of your emergency provider, though that’s still a tough call to make. For instance, say that someone does make a request for this, that and the other thing, and such are not needed. Then you or Turgon or some other journo will be writing on how the minister panicked.

    4) when you make ridiculous statements like the Met being able to predict the weather next month, it does come off as anti-Sinn Fein. At least given what one already knows is your ideological bias.

    5) for how bad the long range forecast was (Met Office, 2/25/09):

    “The famously cold winter of 1962/63 is now expected to occur about once every 1,000 years or more, compared with approximately every 100 to 200 years before 1850.”

    Now you also know why I don’t trust them re global warming. As you can imagine, that forecast is based on their assumptions or modeling with respect to CO2 increase in the atmosphere. You didn’t have to wait 100 years, never mind the 1,000 or more. You worse than 62/63 in 2010. You can’t be more wrong than that.

    For more:

    ONE of the first tasks for the team conducting the Department for Transport’s “urgent review” into the inability of our transport system to cope with snow and ice will be to interview the cocky public figure who assured breakfast TV viewers last month that “I am pretty confident we will be OK” at keeping Britain moving this winter. They were uttered by Transport secretary Philip Hammond himself, who just a fortnight later is already being forced to eat humble pie… If you want a laugh I recommend reading the Resilience Of England’s Transport Systems In Winter, an interim report by the DfT published last July. It is shockingly complacent. Rather than look for solutions to snow-induced gridlock the authors seem intent on avoiding the issue. The Met Office assured them “the effect of climate change is to gradually but steadily reduce the probability of severe winters in the UK”.

    As I said above. Wrong. And couldn’t be more wrong.

    Maybe you might do a global warming story, say, the Global Warming Hoax, as evidenced by these morons who lulled everyone into a sense of complacency, since surely you wouldn’t have a well and truly frigid winter what with global warming “gradually but steadily reduc(ing) the probability of severe winters in the UK”. By the way, if you don’t understand the import of that, such explains why you did not invest in upgrading your system to survive a harsh winter or two. Just as the transport fellow didn’t take precaution either. So write the real story.

    For more:

    Daily Express, 28 October 2010: IT’S a prediction that means this may be time to dig out the snow chains and thermal underwear. The Met Office, using data generated by a £33million supercomputer, claims Britain can stop worrying about a big freeze this year because we could be in for a milder winter than in past years… The new figures, which show a 60 per cent to 80 per cent chance of warmer-than-average temperatures this winter, were ridiculed last night by independent forecasters. The latest data comes in the form of a December to February temperature map on the Met Office’s website.

    How goes your milder winter?

    Again, for your real story, and write one, please, for the sake of our humanity:

    Paul Hudson, BBC Weather, 9 January 2010: Which begs other, rather important questions. Could the model, seemingly with an inability to predict colder seasons, have developed a warm bias, after such a long period of milder than average years? Experts I have spoken to tell me that this certainly is possible with such computer models. And if this is the case, what are the implications for the Hadley centre’s predictions for future global temperatures? Could they be affected by such a warm bias? If global temperatures were to fall in years to come would the computer model be capable of forecasting this?

    For one final nail in the coffin:

    The Daily Telegraph, 28 October 2010: Its “Barbecue Summer” was a washout while its “mild winter” was the coldest for 31 years, so you might be forgiven for taking the Met Office’s latest prediction with a pinch of salt. But the official forecasters have said that this winter could be unusually mild and dry, with temperatures at least 2C more than last year’s big freeze in which snow and ice caused travel chaos across much of Britain. Although the Met Office no longer issues long-term forecasts, their latest data suggest a high probability of a warmer winter for London, the East of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The South West, Wales and most of the North of England are less likely to enjoy such relatively pleasant temperatures but still have a 40 to 60 per cemt chance of being mild. The statistics were generated by the Met Office’s new £33million supercomputer built by IBM. Forecasters used it to analyse how likely temperatures and rainfall were to be above normal for winter but not how far above.

    Note that last line. Above, but not by how much. There’s a world of difference between a 5 year weather event and a 100 year weather event. And I meant what I said above:

    The Independent, 18 December 2010: December 2010 is “almost certain” to be the coldest since records began in 1910, according to the Met Office.

    Again, how is that for mild, how does it square with milder winter, ever increasingly mild for the next 1,000 years, etc.

    WRITE THE GODDAMNED REAL STORY

    Truly lastly, so I can’t and won’t be accused of plagarism:

    http://www.thegwpf.org/science-news/2073-warm-bias-how-the-met-office-mislead-the-british-public.html

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick :

    As an aside, can we lay off Mairtin? Not only do I believe the minister had good reason for appointing him, I also suspect there would not have been this kind of comms Disaster had he still been in place.

    O’Muilleoir is still listed as a non-executive director. And his presence doesn’t seem to have helped the communications problems.

    Murphy will be effectively sacked from the post when SF relinguish the DRD job after May.

    Do you know something the rest of us don’t ?

    It wasn’t an impossible brief but it required an activist minister to get some things done, not just take his Perm Secs word for everything.

    I am not sure what part of that does not apply to any given ministry. But I think it’s true to say that Murphy has acted more like a caretaker than someone with ideas. Robinson was able to claim the initiative for things like free transport for the elderly and the new trains. What are SF’s specific policies to improve transport ?

  • danidiot

    I have quite enjoyed the contortions of Sinn fein spokesmen on the media as they have grappled with what to call Northern Ireland Water. I’ve heard a few NIWaters, northern Water, several ‘the water service’ and when John ODowd was rattled by Nolan, he came off with the dreaded ‘Northern Ireland’ a couple of times. Surprisingly I havent heard ‘North of Ireland Water yet.

  • Mick Fealty

    slappy,

    I’ve not the time to develop this further at this stage. But the division of responsibility is crystal clear. Murphy has charge of strategy, MacKenzie implementation. MacKenzie is the man who should have been watching the weather, not iteratively demoralising his own staffs’ morale.

    But ask yourself how come NIW got through the operational challenges in the big freeze of the first week of 2010 (ie before the last board was sacked) without anything like this scale of damage?

    And when this is all done, let’s ask Mr MacKenzie why he’s pulling in contractors from Donegal when he’s not yet bothered bringing in some standby teams on the ground.

    This is the guy who was planning to bust NIW’s severely needed capital investment in the infrastructure by pushing through a straightening package of both capital and operational cuts as part of PC10. We now have a graphic illustration of just how utterly stupid that was. At the very least if you plan to cut one, you have to increase the other.

    And had to be stopped twice. Once, by the subsequently sacked board. And secondly when the Minister copped onto what precisely MacKenzie was up to.

    The Minister does not need another review to know what to do here. And if he does he should give it to the new regulator Shane Lynch or someone outside his own department who will give him a trustworthy and competent view of how Mr MacKenzie has run NI Water into the ground.

    It’s worth noting too that Mr MacKenzie gets £250,000 pa to make this stuff happen correctly. The British PM £142,500. The First Ministers, something like £110,000. And Mr Murphy draws significantly under £100,000.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s worth noting too that Mr MacKenzie gets £250,000 pa to make this stuff happen correctly. The British PM £142,500. The First Ministers, something like £110,000.

    Yeah, but being a public sector CEO doesn’t come with a lifetime of lucrative book deals and speaking tours included. Being a Prime Minister has enriched Tony Blair and his family to the tune of tens of millions of pounds.

  • Mick Fealty

    Maybe @CS. But, in this context at least, that’s largely beside the point. The money indicates the graveness of the executive responsibilities shouldered.

    Part of the ‘fug’ around the way NICS has operated over the last forty years is the sheer lack of accountability of senior departmental officials.

    They might be forgiven for believing that for them there is no such thing as a retractable ‘moral hazard’. But as Mr Priestly has already found to his own cost, there can be.

  • The Word

    Comrade Stalin

    “Given that SF seem to manage to win the votes, what are you trying to persuade everyone of ? That the SDLP is good with ideas but crap at winning elections ?”

    Well, at the moment there is no need for a small membership in SDLP to try to out poll the very much larger Sinn Fein party. We simply control their policies and thereby kill off the cynical core of their party step by step by letting them feel ostracised by the “new” thinking.

    Added to that, bread and butter issues will eat Sinn Fein up, as they are mostly a populist reflection of an Irish inferiority complex and the lies (it says are true) about the natural cynicism of all men except them will be seen as no way to win any serious argument.

  • DC

    re: lucrative book deals

    Well, I can personally say that I’ve copyright infringed Blair’s new book A Journey and his audio book, plus many many others written by politicians. So they will not be that lucrative anymore – that is for sure. (However, for other types books I did go to Waterstones this Christmas to buy for the family.)

    In relation to Chief Exec salary, what’s the different between public and private companies here? Why isn’t anyone saying this is too much for failure?

    In as much as the Westminster Government is intertwined with the banking sector and reluctant to set to work on the irresponsible there (hand in glove – Bank of England and printing of money and buying government debt on the markets – a lot of buying done by those British financial services – scratching the sovereign government’s back?) – same with Murphy and NI Water – he can’t sack them because of that unbroken thread of responsibility; if one goes, quite a few others should follow – Murphy included. Bit like dominos.

  • DC

    Basically – the state as a vested interest, rather than performance-led politics, a performance based on the success or failure of the services it has responsibility for.

  • 241934 john brennan

    The pen is mightier than the sword. Thus it came to pass that a water supply system, which withstood many loyalist and republican bombs, was decimated by a few dodgy contracts and bad plans drawn up by a few government ministers, consultants and civil servants

  • Barnshee

    “The British Government and Unionists have known for almost a decade that NIW antiquated infrastructure needed updating but did nothing now”

    The funds required for infrastructure upgrade were diverted to pay to repair and compensate for damage caused by Martin Gerry and Co –sadly we will ALL have to pay for it.

    The only thing that cheers me up is the sight of bemused SF as they realise that they and the dupers are responsible for the mess

  • tacapall

    Barnshee. ” The funds required for infrastructure upgrade were diverted to pay to repair and compensate for damage caused by Martin Gerry and Co –sadly we will ALL have to pay for it”.

    It depends on how you define terrorism, obviously loyalists were not terrorists to you as they were the only terrorists who attempted to sabotage our water system.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “But ask yourself how come NIW got through the operational challenges in the big freeze of the first week of 2010 (ie before the last board was sacked) without anything like this scale of damage?”

    Mick, as I told John in relation to that one quiz, my top pet peeve is failure to properly conceptualize the matter at hand. No. 2 on the list is showing up with torch and pitchfork in relation to others but not accepting any personal responsibilty. We’ll deal with No. 2 first. We can start with this statement from NI Water:

    “We are noticing that the majority of the leaks in the water system are currently on the customers’ private water supply side.”

    And so, the question becomes, did those bitching and moaning now do these things to properly “winterize” their home:

    Purchase and install pipe insulation – foam tubes that can be fitted around each pipe inside the home. Pipe insulators will help to keep pipes warm, making it less likely that the pipes will freeze.

    In areas that are especially prone to freezing pipes, wrap the pipes with electric heating tape, available at most home supply stores and hardware stores.

    For pipes that run along exterior walls, it’s also prudent to place fiberglass insulation between the pipe and the exterior wall for added protection from cold. Extra insulation should be placed around the section of piping at the point where the water supply enters the home, as these pipes tend to freeze at a much faster rate since the cold will travel from the outdoors and along the interior pipes.

    Did everyone do that? I suspect not. Most were probably blissfully unaware of the state of their water pipe insulation, etc. And so we are clear, the main entry point of water into your home, pipes in the basement, pipes in the garage, and pipes along exterior walls are prime targets (as it were) for freezing. Next are those pipes in the attic and the pipes under your bathroom and kitchen sinks. To aid these last pipes, simply open the entrance to your attic and the cabinets below the bathroom and kitchen sinks so that they too can share in the warmth of your home.

    And what did you want NI Water to say? Hey, Greenies and EnviroNazis, we don’t give a shite what you have to say, so please, one and all, do yourselves and us a favor by doing this:

    On extremely cold days, homeowners should take extra precautions to prevent pipes from freezing. One way to prevent pipes from freezing is to keep the water moving through the pipes. (so let’s all “waste” some water and won’t that play well with some)

    To keep water flowing through pipes to avoid freezing, leave several faucets turned on, with a flow that’s just slightly more than a heavy drip. It’s important to leave several different faucets running, as sections of piping can freeze, cutting off the water supply to entire sections of the home (i.e. the entire second floor). Leaving several faucets running will also pull in more water though the main pipe running into the home – the pipe that is most likely to freeze in many homes.

    Now, for the basic science of it all, kindly note that unlike just about everything else, water does not contract when it freezes, water instead expands. And that explains the burst of your home water pipe(s).

    Now onto No. 1, your failure to properly conceptualize the matter. NI Water has another concern, movement of the ground. Do you know how much the ground moves when the temperature of the earth changes? So, to answer question, what is the differential effect of a colder environment over a longer period of time on ground movement? You simply said the inane and the ignorant, to wit, it didn’t happen last year, so why now? Well, it’s colder this year than last, and the cold has been around for longer, so more likely that pipes will freeze and burst in the home, and as regards the NI Water mains, more likely to have a greater earth movement as well. And sometimes, Mick, believe it or not, there is simply nothing that we humans can do to avert disaster. Let me put that last this way, what is your plan to avoid NI Water water main damage from the earth moving? Have you asked the former board members who are critics, what their plan is? No, you haven’t, and that’s because of my pet peeve no. 1, as you don’t understand the science here and so you haven’t begun to properly conceptualize the matter at hand. And you all there aren’t alone:

    A spokesman for Bristol Water (UK) said: “The simple reason for all the burst mains is the sudden thaw – the change in temperature causes sharp ground movement and that is more than enough to cause the leaks and bursts.

    “It has happened before but the numbers we are seeing now are unprecedented.”

    And unprecedented not because the incompetence is, but because the weather is. Again, THIS IS A 100 YEAR EVENT. You haven’t had a winter this cold since records were first kept in 1910. What year is it now? 2011? So a 100 year weather event. At the least. Since we don’t know how long we’d have to go back prior to 1910 in order to find this winter in your past as we don’t have the records to inform us.

    For one more, and this answers your question, January 2010 was worst cold spell in 30 years. Again, this cold spell is the worst since records were first kept in 1910. That’s the difference. Not incompetence. And it is why you are not alone. Was the board at Bristol Water sacked as well in the interim period and is that how we account for “unprecedented” water main breaks in Bristol?

    And by the way, what is the plan for the unprecedented? Surely, it can’t be based on prior history, since this is unprecedented. Truly lastly, if you and/or Turgon see Big Jim Allister, kindly tell him for me that his understanding of the forces of nature involved here is simply “shambolic”. And here, a song for him )(with lyrics below the fold; note the closing lines):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6rDWqjnW7w

    So tell him lastly that as against charge of incompetence, I’m going with Godzilla (fitting symbol of the overpowering elemental and fundamental forces of nature)(and much thanks to Dai Nippon for giving us Godzilla as fitting symbol of our folly vis-a-vis the elemental and fundamental forces of nature).

  • slappymcgroundout

    Oh, and Mick, forgot to include this in my last, remembered was clearly my internet favorites. Note that some in County Kerry had (still have?) the same problem of no water owing to low level in the reservoir. Note also the word “unprecedented” again, 6th paragraph down, with paragraph beginning “Extensive water main breaks…” And note lastly, that it isn’t just NI and Bristol, and the ROI is also a member of the club:

    http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/eyidqlkfkfau/

    Almost forgot, but re leaks on private property playing their role note further the part about Cork and the request that the absentee owners come on home to check to see if there are any leaks, as there is “huge rise” in water demand.

  • Mick Fealty

    So you think the dFM is talking nonsense?

    BTW, the yellow card is for ‘being wrong on the internet‘.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Slappy, the main criticism of NIW & the minister was their late reaction to the freeze, from the moment temperature were forecast to drop below -15 an emergency plan should have been immediately enacted with guidance broadcast in the media, waterstocks could have been preserved to an extent and efforts put into tackling the main leaks not distributing water, but the reaction of the minister CEO and new directors appears to be entirely knee-jerk, hence the calls for resignations.
    As for the general infastructure failures, I have been told for many years by friends who were engineers in the old WS that the system was basically on life support, that they could keep it going with masssive amounts of intensive care, but McKenzie has been busy pulling out the plugs, and it was now only a matter of time before failure on a massive scale would occur, I should have paid more attention to them!
    I presume Lawrence was also told this, as were the directors he had sacked, they listened to the advice and tried to stop him wrecking the system, Murphy saw a chance to save money, and get some friendly faces on the board, he is fully involved in the mismanagement that has ensued and therefore both him and McKenzie should go.

  • “Murphy has denied that the failure to ask Water UK previously is related to his political views: he pointed out that the water sent from Scotland was part of the scheme and the decisions regarding asking water UK were taken by NI Water.”

    I understand there was water sent from ROI too. The action taken may reflect the political views of the appointees put in by Mr. Murphy.

    I dont wish to jump to a conclusion that Anglophobic bigotry played a part in the handling of the crisis. However, I think there is a case to answer.

  • Mick Fealty

    Drumlin,

    Let me correct you there. Murphy eventually kyboshed MacKenzie’s slash and burn proposals (which looks now like a hasty and ill-advised attempt to get NIW ready for a market sell off).

    Murphy’s only really culpable for keeping an inexperienced CEO over an experienced Board.

    SM,

    I go back to my original. The ‘anglophobic minister’ meme may have a political appeal to you, but it has no basis in fact. It is not Murphy’s job to call up UK Water. That was Mr MacKenzie’s call. If the Mayor of Drogheda offers bottled water it’s because of the executive vacuum at the top of NI Water, not politics, that’s to blame.

  • pippakin

    If NIW did hesitate before calling on the UK for help they not only put their bigotry ahead of their electorate they also missed a golden, shift the blame, PR opportunity.

    Unfit for purpose, even as republicans.

  • 241934 john brennan

    There a couple of old reliable proverbs, which apply to local water supply failures:

    Irish: “Good care cuts the head off bad luck.”

    Dutch: “Even a rat gnawing a dyke can drown a country”

    Here we were unprepared for the ‘unexpected’ visit of Jack Frost in mid-winter!

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, possibly McKenzie slash and burn was curtailed to an extent, but there have been major cutbacks in on-the-ground staff and general investment, some upgrades have been undertaken, but at far to slow a rate. Murphy interfered in the management of NIW in both the sacking and appointment of the NEDs, he cant have it both ways.

  • Cynic2

    “The ‘anglophobic minister’ meme may have a political appeal to you, but it has no basis in fact. It is not Murphy’s job to call up UK Water. ”

    Mick

    I cannot agree with you on this. I am on record as saying that Murphy is perhaps more of the more competent Ministers in Stormont. I don’t know why NIW didn’t ask for help when it was clearly available. Their latest answer – that they were on top of the problem and didn’t need help – is risible.

    Clearly NIW need to be held to account but they are NOT the only ones. I have some sympathy for McKenzie on the issue of asking help from the UK. If Murphy was your boss and you had seen what he’d done earlier in the year would you have wanted to cross him?

    I don’t know if Murphy was opposed to UK help or not _ and I think its mainly irrelevant. What is at issue is the general competence. This crisis has thrown up a number of very very serious questions:

    1 I accept that the operational issues lay with NIW – but when it all began to collapse what did DRD and the Minister actually DO to put it right? Have another meeting?

    2 why was this not declared a crisis at a much earlier point?

    3 why were all the available resources not deployed much sooner including UKWater, Local Councils and PSNI (to name a few)

    4 why were the Emergency Planning Arrangements not implemented immediately?

    5 if NIW weren’t doing what they should have been where was the Minister and what was he doing? It seems that the only Minister who got involved and asked the right questions was the Secretary of State!!! Dear God, don’t they WANT devolution?

    6 why was the Minister still expressing his full confidence in McKenzie and denigrating the old Board?

    7 why did our esteemed First Minister stay on his sunbed in Florida while local people froze? has he already given up on holding on to his seat in June?

    No Mick, I am sorry. This has been a total unmitigated disaster and has severely undermined confidence in the whole Stormont Administration not just Murphy, but the Minister was in the lead. If he had been dynamic and resourceful he could have mitigated a lot of what followed. He wasn’t and it was local people who paid the price.

  • Mick Fealty

    No problem with any of that. But you have put your finger on a very big problem at the start.

    “If Murphy was your boss and you had seen what he’d done earlier in the year would you have wanted to cross him?”

    1, the sacking of the previous board was Mr MacKenzie’s idea, as a quid pro quo with Priestly for pulling his resignation. And 2, if you are even remotely correct, then why are we paying a man 250k pa for if he is too scared of the Minister to make the necessary decisions?

  • Cynic2

    Oh come on Mick…these things are much more subtle than that. Officials ‘understand the Minister’s mind’ on matters – it happens all the time. After all they are there to serve and to execute the Minister’spolicies

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, you just have to see the minister appointments to the board to know he was playing a political game with NIW all of last year, I would go as far as to say he trying to undermine its credibility as a GoCo in order to fulfill some sort of socialist fantasy and put it directly under his control. He succeeded in the first part, lets hope he dosnt get his way with the latter.

  • Mick Fealty

    But he’s a fecking politician! He’s supposed to play political games with his brief. The politics is interesting, but not material to the executive problems at NIW.

    The last thing we need now is either to push this matter, yet again, into the long grass, or go for another hillbilly lynching like before and then carry on the same way regardless!

  • tacapall

    “or go for another hillbilly lynching like before and then carry on the same way regardless”

    Mick that is exactly what those who choose to ignore all those at fault and insist it was Sinn Fein and Conor Murphy. When all the facts are known it will show that what happened was an accumulation of factors including massive loss of water from burst pipes of homes, buisnesses, factories, schools, hospitals and indeed NIW’s own supply network. Conor Murphy is responsible for NIW only. I read a letter from an SDLP spokesman in the Irish news today having a go at Sinn Fein and Conor Murphy over the water fiasco conviently ignoring Alex Attwoods role when thousands of NIHE tenants were left for days with burst pipes flooding their homes because they had no emergency plan and couldn’t cope with the massive volume of calls needing emergency assistance.

  • Drumlins Rock

    but Mick the politics is at the heart of it because Murphy put them there, course it shouldn’t be kicked into the long grass, but Murphy is hell bent on destroying whats left of the governence of NIW to get it under his full control.
    What do you think should happen now? Surely McKenzie cant survive, his silence must count as a virtual resignation?
    But then what goes in its place?

  • Mick Fealty

    Tacapall:

    “…that is exactly what those who choose to ignore all those at fault and insist it was Sinn Fein and Conor Murphy”

    My point. But let’s not turn this in to another ‘we’re all to blame’. Good news is there are now only 500 people out of service: kudos to the crews out in all weather getting people back on.

    Bad news (which a lynching would obscure) is the action plan did not get actioned until the 27th and we know they knew by close of play on the 21st…

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, I think most people know what sorta cock-up it was, very little inquiry is needed, McKenzie must pay the price, and Murphy will be damaged even more if he goes, will be a lame duck minister for the next 4 months at best, and with an election coming up showing SF failures suits the SDLP, UUP & DUP in that order.
    The big problem is NIW will be in limbo land, full government control is a non-starter and foolish, full privatisation will be blocked by SF so no point in even discussing it, so we are stuck with the half-way house, how do we make it work better?

  • Mick Fealty

    When this immediate mess is cleared up that is something all parties in the Executive need to pay some mind to. The ‘mess’ includes the blurring of what NIW is.

    I’ve seen NIW reported in the international MSM variously as a wholly own government body and a private company. Both are partly right and wholly wrong.

    The high level of subsidy from the Treasury (so ‘cleverly’ negotiated by the NI Administration) meant that poor Mr MacKenzie was responsible to two bosses, the Department and the Board.

    People won’t like water rates because they understand only too well that they are already paying for their water in the regional rate.

    People won’t like the idea of handing a monopoly position (there is no open market in water in England) over to an already wealthy private company to asset strip and run as a cash cow, even it it does mean in the long run it will easily afford to replace the whole piping infrastructure several times over.

    As a personal aside, my individual experience of English water companies is that they are run by accountants, not engineers. The infrastructure is good because they’ve been forced by the regulator (eventually) to spend money on it, but their individual service when something goes wrong is seriously lousy because they’ve sacked most the local workers who understand the intricacies of the local system.

    There are viable options that can be ratcheted out. The only thing that cannot be done is to keep the GoCo jugged and doing nothing as it is now that departmental cuts are begging to cut even more expertise out of its workforce.

    Time to engage brain and sort this out for once and for all.

  • al

    Indeed. Murphy should job ship before it sinks, or empties its ballasts, or whatever happens in a storm in a tea cup with ni water.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “So you think the dFM is talking nonsense?
    BTW, the yellow card is for ‘being wrong on the internet‘.”

    I’ll raise your stupid cartoon with a Damian. Some things never change:

    http://www.mulley.net/2009/11/27/english-website-slugger-otoole-decides-to-be-bitchy-about-me/#comments

    Oh, and Mick, they are politicians with careers to salvage. So like Pilate, what is truth?

    And not otherwise past my bedtime, as I live according to Hawaiin-Aluetian standard time, so take out your calculator and subtract 10 hours from 3:06 am and then the following time when the follow up was posted. Just one more Damian for you.

  • Mick Fealty

    Slappy, just try, like I have, to get it right next time. And try to acknowledge, like I have, when you get it wrong.

  • Lord Shutt’s response to Reg Empey queries – 16 Feb:

    Lord Shutt of Greetland (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords; Liberal Democrat)

    During the water crisis, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland made it very clear that the UK Government was ready to help local politicians alleviate the crisis.

    He held a number of telephone conversations with the Secretary of State at Defra on 29 December. A meeting was held with the deputy First Minister and the Minister for Regional Development on the afternoon of 29 December 2010; he confirmed the UK Government’s readiness to help.

    On 30 December, my right honourable friend met the First and deputy First Ministers in the morning and again in the evening. The Regional Development Minister was also present at the evening meeting.

    In between these meetings he discussed the matter with the Secretary of State at Defra and with Water UK. They helped identify additional call centre capacity to deal with the heavy volume of calls from customers in Northern Ireland who had suffered disruption. This offer was subsequently taken up on 31 December.