NI Water: Mr Priestly to return to work, but the issue rumbles on?

So Mr Priestly, the former Permanent Secretary is to return to work, albeit as a deputy Permanent Secretary. His salary drops from £106,000 down to £92,000. It is not certain where he will be deployed.

He was suspended for providing the text of a letter which was subsequently used by to attack the workings of the Public Accounts Committee by Peter Dixon (also a non exec of the DRD appointed Harbour Commissioners at the time) whose work as a member of an Independent Review Team was being legitimately scrutinised by said committee.

There is substantial evidence that Mr Priestly’s Independent Review Team was nothing of the sort, but rather a contrived means of resolving a conflict in the chain of command between DRD and Northern Ireland Water by getting rid of four out of five non executive members of the Board of Northern Ireland Water, by hanging the blame for certain breaches in procurement policy.

Intriguingly, this request for information was entered on 3rd May this year and was due to be answered under the Freedom of Information Act by 31st of that month

All correspondence in relation to procurement breaches identified in relation to legal or other fees ,or any other procurement breaches, the value and number of these breaches and actions taken as a result of their identification which have occurred  or been identified between August 1st 2010 to date.

An answer has been postponed on ‘public interest’ until the date the interim Board is due to step down. Hmmm… So we don’t get to see the comparative performance of the interim board with those Mr Priestly sacked until after that Board step down…

It is not that strange that Mr Priestly is to be reappointed. After all, as the comic handbook for Civil Service behaviour, Yes Minister has it, it is the unwritten rule that no one gets fired:

Sir Arnold: If once they accepted the principle that senior Civil Servants could be removed for incompetence, that would be the thin end of the wedgeWe could lose dozens of our chapsHundreds, perhaps.

Sir Humphrey: Thousands.

But bringing him back into the ongoing saga that is DRD/NI Water would be foolish in the extreme…


  • Drumlins Rock

    Maybe Mr Priestly will do the honourable thing and resign, claiming his name has been “cleared” of the more serious issues, the whole thing is a farce and shows little sign of changing, whitewash by the bucketful.

  • Cynic2

    I love Bruce Robinson’s comment that he wont be releasing any more information to anyone including one assumes MLAs and the PAC. Well, isn’t about time that the Assembly put some manners on the Civil Service and explained that they will decide, not the Head of the Civil Service – unless of course Bruce has some high level cover within OFMDFM who do not want NIW probed too deeply.

  • Crubeen

    And there was Ted with his nice transfer to a lovely parish in Dublin … pheasant for lunch and a pleasing sherry or three … until there was that teensy weensy bit of bother with the books and resting in the wrong account … and straight back to Craggy Island.

    That was a priestly return … wasn’t it!

  • pippakin

    I doubt anyone has much faith in these ‘reviews’ and this, if it stays, confirms why, not even at attempt to disguise the whitewash.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “SIR Bruce Robinson, the head of the civil service, personally decided that Paul Priestly should not be sacked, a leaked letter has revealed.

    Sir Bruce decided that the former permanent secretary at the department of regional development should return to work after being demoted one level rather than be removed after it emerged that he had written a letter attacking members of
    Stormont’s public accounts committee

    His decision came almost 10 months after Mr Priestly had been suspended on full pay.

    The office of the first minister and deputy first minister has refused to give any details about why Mr Priestly has been allowed to return and, in a letter to the public accounts committee, Sir Bruce made clear that he felt under no compulsion to explain his decision.

    But yesterday a meeting of the committee heard angry calls by its longest-serving member, John Dallat, that Sir Bruce be forced to appear before it to explain his decision and said that he wanted an assurance that the committee could scrutinise public spending without senior civil servants covertly attacking it…”

  • Pigeon Toes

    “It has emerged senior civil servant Paul Priestly unsuccessfully appealed against his demotion from permanent secretary to deputy secretary”

    “Sir Robinson said that when the civil service acts as an employer, its policies and procedures must follow the law which protects employees’ right to confidentiality”

    Again not something they are normally renowned for, but when it’s other peoples employees it’s not a breach of the Data Protection Act?

  • Drumlins Rock

    According to U.TV new directors have been appointed, anyone know much about them? have they the guts and experience to take it on or is it just jobs for the boys?

  • Pigeon Toes

    The other pair remain. Kevin Steele, appointed from NIE and er Don Price who survived that controversial cull…
    “It found that Mr Dixon was a friend of Don Price, the one NIW non executive director not sacked”

    BTW any word on a “working” role for the ex perm sec, and indeed on Declan Gormley’s court action?