NI Water: Any convenient ‘troubled’ port in a storm?

Interesting quote from Liam Mulholland who in the absence of any substantial public appearance from his boss, the CEO of NI Water Laurence MacKenzie, puts the blame on the Troubles (for any foreign journalists reading, you might like to note these ‘officially’ ended back in 1994) for his company’s poor reaction to the extreme freeze thaw weather conditions of the last two weeks.

The clear imputation is that politicians were to blame, even though it was Mr MacKenzie himself was so keen to cut both long term investment and the short operational capacity of Northern Ireland Water.

Add to that the fact that neither the CEO nor his number two, the Head of Operations, put the company’s pre-prepared emergency plan into being until 27th December, even though they had information telling them they had a serious serious problem on the 21st, and this begins to look more like a ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse than a reason for 40,000 people to go without water for so long.

You can be pretty sure Mr MacKenzie won’t be trying that one on with a new Board which will be much more inclined to take the Minster’s (who was set swinging in the wind somewhat by his own boss a few days back) necessarily malign view of such an attempt to evade the executive blame for these matters tomorrow than the one he apparently asked be sacked last March.

For all the press reports of Mr MacKenzie’s imminent resignation, don’t believe a word of it until you see the signed paper. We (and the Consumer Council) have been here before. This guy is nothing if not clever, determined and tenacious.

Perhaps it’s something the Minster should have considered before he let himself be convinced by his still suspended former Permanent Secretary, Paul Priestly, to sack a perfectly competent and, more importantly, an industry experienced, Board of Northern Ireland Water last March.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty