NI Water: Draft PAC report says IRT conclusion “too general” and “deficient”

UTV has seen a leaked copy of the draft PAC report into the NI Water saga.  From UTV [added emphasis throughout]

The draft document, which was prepared by Audit Office staff over the past six months, has criticised the composition of the team formed last January to examine procurement problems at the water company.

It says the Department should not have appointed individuals to the Independent Review Team who “could be perceived as having a conflict of interest.”

The draft report says there are clear indications “the Department inappropriately influenced a small number of key findings in what was (supposed to be) an independent review.”

It says the investigation by the Independent Review team was completed “with undue haste.”

It claims their overall conclusion on the culpability of the board members – in particular the non-executive directors- was too “general” and “deficient.”

The First and deputy First Ministers clearly haven’t learned the importance of not appointing individuals to ‘independent’ reviews who “could be perceived as having a conflict of interest.”

But do Audit Office staff have an “axe to grind” too, Minister?  And are you still unrepentant for having acted swiftly and decisively on the back of that ‘independent’ report?

Don’t worry, though.  The Chairman of the Assembly’s PAC, the NI Water Minister’s party colleague, Sinn Féin’s Paul Maskey is on the case…

“It appears that an early draft report into NI Water has been leaked”, West Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Paul Maskey said.

“If this is the case I am concerned and disappointed. I will be trying to get to the bottom of this”.

“As it stands, this document is not a PAC report. The Committee has not completed its inquiry and this is certainly not the Committee’s agreed position.”

Adds BBC report here.