NI Water: So another one bites the dust… (updated)

Just picked up confirmation of Jamie Delargy’s report on UTVlive over an hour and a half ago that Laurence MacKenzie has resigned, stand by for the text of NI Water’s statement… Update: UTV is suggesting the pay off is in the region of 1/2 Million… Update 2: Here’s the first one, btw for anyone who’s not been following this story… Update 3 – at midnight NI Water Chief Executive and NI Water Board issued statements.

Laurence MacKenzie:

This is entirely my own decision. I believe firmly in the principles of responsibility and accountability; it is for that fundamental reason I have decided to pursue this course of action.

As I made clear early last week, my focus until now has been entirely on dealing with the major incident which affected too many of our customers in recent days. I am very glad to say that that situation has now been resolved. I do note that substantial water restrictions continue to be a fact of life for the Republic of Ireland and I wish colleagues elsewhere well in normalising that situation.

At this stage I wish to pay the highest possible tribute to all of NI Water’s staff who responded to the unprecedented situation which faced them over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. I have absolute confidence that any objective scrutiny of their performance would recognise the tremendous efforts that they made.

Equally, however, I readily accept and recognise that there were aspects of the way in which we handled the situation that could have been better. In particular our ability to communicate with our customers and let them know the reasons for and the times at which they were going to be taken off supply. This failing added to the considerable inconvenience experienced by our customers; for that I apologise sincerely both personally and on behalf of the organisation.

A fundamental part of the work I have been engaged in over recent days has been around setting up procedures to ensure that failing is not repeated.

I am delighted that my interim successor will be Trevor Haslett. I wish Trevor every success as he seeks to move the company forward over the coming months. His invaluable experience and knowledge of this organisation and the water industry as a whole will continue to be a major asset for the company.

I would also like to thank:
* The interim Chairman and non-executive Directors for their support and encouragement.
* The many dedicated people I have worked with over the past seventeen months in NI Water and to wish them well for the future.

The Board of NI Water have accepted my resignation as CEO and recommended to the Minister for Regional Development, Conor Murphy, MP, MLA, that he approves the settlement terms proposed by the Board.

The Board:

The Board of Northern Ireland Water has announced that the company’s Chief Executive, Laurence MacKenzie, on his own initiative, has tendered his resignation.

Following discussion, the Board has accepted his resignation as CEO and agreed terms of settlement consistent with his contractual entitlement.

Accordingly the Board is making a recommendation to the Minister for Regional Development, Conor Murphy, MP, MLA, that he approves the settlement terms proposed by the Board.

Subject to Ministerial approval, it is intended the resignation becomes effective from midnight on Friday 7 January.

Mr MacKenzie is also tendering his resignation to the Minister as a Director of NI Water.

The Board is recommending that Trevor Haslett, Director of Engineering Procurement, be appointed as acting CEO and Board Director of NI Water.

Once these arrangements are in place the Board will commence a full and open recruitment process to appoint a new CEO.

The Board wishes to acknowledge the significant contribution made by Mr MacKenzie to develop open and transparent governance arrangements within NI Water in line with public service obligations and the efficiencies achieved within price control demands.

The Board would like to take this opportunity to wish Mr. MacKenzie well in the future.

So Conor Murphy as Minister is being firmly woven into the acceptance of the settlement terms …

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