Fascinating little sidebar matter on the Northern Ireland Water issue. Jim Allister has been refused information relating to the attendance of the Chairman Pauric White at Board meetings. The reasons given are astounding:
“Premature disclosure of information pertaining to the investigation, whilst the investigation is ongoing, could potentially result in closing off options through adverse public reaction.”
Acting CEO Trevor Haslett is the individual who authorised this refusal. When contacted by Slugger, an NI Water spokeswoman stated:
“It is, however, stated within this response that information may be considered for release in the future. NI Water is minded of the fact that the sensitivity of the information requested may decrease over time and that this information may be suitably released in the future.”
So we can’t have it now, but we might get it later? Not alone does this ambiguous response subject the question of how regularly Mr White attended NI Water Board meetings to ‘unhelpful’ conjecture, but it suggests that even the most mundane question cannot now be answered if there is a possibility that it could change public opinion.
I’m not sure that’s a welcome precedent to set.
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