an “exceptional event” caused by Belfast’s “unique clay geology”

It looks like that suspicion about a connection between the road surface collapse on Cromac Street and work on the Belfast Sewers Project was probably correct. From the BBC report The collapse of one of Belfast’s busiest roads was caused by an air pocket rising to the surface, an NI Water spokesman has said. Bill Gowdy said the rupture in Cromac Street damaged an old Victorian sewer about four metres under the road. He said the air pocket was probably …

Read more…

“we could pay up to a maximum of £3m..”

Northern Ireland Water have revealed that it will cost up to £3million to alter the £70million seven-year contract with the Xansa-led Crystal Alliance consortium for the provision of a customer billing and collections system for water charges – previously noted here. It was part of the recommendations of the 2007 review of water and sewerage services. It’s a small price to pay to allow the semi-detached polit-bureau to claim that they haven’t introduced an additional water charge – since it’ll …

Read more…

£266,000 – water way to go…

THE former chief executive of Northern Ireland Water, who left under a cloud last month, got a severance package of over a quarter of a million pounds. Katharine Bryan carried the can for a reported £30 million shortfall error that will no doubt be passed on to the public. It’s hard to have much sympathy to someone getting a £266,000 pay-off after screwing up so badly, putting my water bill up and preparing a public utility for privatisation. But I’m …

Read more…

“NI Water should continue to be a government-owned company at least for the next five years..”

The Northern Ireland Regional Development minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, has welcomed the publication of the Strand 2 report from the Independent Water Review Panel – report available here [pdf file]. The Strand 1 report was noted here previously – and its recommendations, on water charges, were discussed here. Dealing with Management, Governance and Delivery, this report’s timing couldn’t be better.. Included in its recommendations is this one for the Environment minister to consider [added emphasis] An independent Environmental Protection …

Read more…

NI Water company won’t drink its own water…

NORTHERN Ireland Water can’t have much confidence in its own product, but if it does, then it has wasted £12,000 of your money on bottled water for its meetings. A tad embarrassing – and surely bottled water has to be one of the biggest rip-offs ever concocted by marketing men?

Water charge review recommendations to go to Executive

The first of two reports on the review of water and sewerage services is out, and the Regional Development minister is low-key in his response, and is taking the recommendations to the Northern Ireland Executive – [for some collective responsibility? – Ed]. The BBC report indicates a couple of important points. Firstly, according to the report, the review estimated that we already pay £160 for water and sewerage services. Secondly when the new charges come in, in 2009, as well …

Read more…

“It’s not all bad news..”

Katharine Bryan of Northern Ireland Water has said the current workforce of about 1,900 will be cut to 1,400 as part of a new strategic business plan. According to the BBC The jobs will go over three years and will hit the firm’s industrial division as well as engineering, administration and scientific divisions. The not all bad news? “It’s not all bad news, it sounds a lot but in fact we have been able to transfer quite a significant number …

Read more…

“Northern Ireland Water will still be established, as planned, on 1 April”

Eamonn McCann, writing in the Sunday Business Post, deals swiftly with the previously identified shadow-boxing and points instead to the deep fractures the election result actually revealed. He sees more internal difficulties for the DUP than for SF in the weeks ahead but he also wants to know whether the parties intend to re-engage with the shadow-boxing, given that the contracts are signed, and that the GoCo is.. apparently.. go.. [added new link]From the SBP comment piece Firstly the shadow-boxing …

Read more…

Digging deeper on public appointments

Why ask a question when the answer is there to see? Yesterday, Felicity Huston, asked why there was no improvement in the proportion of women appointed to serve as members and/or chairs of public bodies in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Public Appointments highlighted that: In 2005/06 men hold 68% of all public appointments in Northern Ireland and 75% of chair appointments. The statistics she used were taken from the 10th annual report on public appointments (pdf file). …

Read more…

“if there is any justice..”

Spotted by the excellent Newshound. In the current issue of The Spectator magazine, Ruth Dudley Edwards picks up on the continuing troubles of the Secretary of State for Wales etc, Peter Hain, and in particular the inquiry requested by Mr Justice Girvan, “who — if there is any justice — will be Peter Hain’s nemesis”, following his initial ruling. From the Spectator article[free reg req] Republicans rightly call their secretaries of state ‘proconsuls’, for they are powerful, yet electorally unaccountable. …

Read more…

Alliance to burst through middle in South Belfast?

Well, it turns out that the Alliance’s candidate for the next Assembly election in south Belfast is Anna Lo, currently Chief Executive of the Chinese Welfare Association. It is a bit of a coup for a party that has consistently found itself outside the unionist/nationalist carve up at Stormont. If elected, she would be the only Chinese member of legislative Assembly in the UK. A classic match for one of Northern Ireland’s most diverse constituencies.The Chinese population in Northern Ireland …

Read more…

A problem with public appointments?

The case of Interim Victims Commissioner and objections to three of the Parades Commission has raised the issue of public appointments. However, the NIHRC and EC may have a few questions to answer too. NIWC members seem to be doing rather well and have a very disproportionate presence on both bodies. Is the statutory duty to that such bodies “as a group are representative of the community in Northern Ireland” being fulfilled? To overcome such problems is it time to …

Read more…

Women and NI

Clearly inspired by Newton Emerson’s controversial attack on the NIWC last week, Emily Jones does a round up piece on women in Northern Ireland (and elsewhere).

Women's coalition

Usually for any middle ground party, this is the third time this week the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition has hit the headlines. In response to Newt Emerson’s controversial attack on the Women’s Coalition, Monica McWilliams wrote in yesterday’s Irish News: “Women have to be at the table to contribute to solving problems, whether it’s a local issue or negotiations for an international peace agreement. I’m not talking about one or two token women, but as full participants. Yet in Northern …

Read more…

Probing the middle ground

Irish News Unionist columnist Newton Emerson takes a caustic view of the premise on which one of the few middle ground parties, the NIWC, is built.

Forum for Peace and Reconciliation.

The delegations at the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation include Fianna Fail, SDLP, Fine Gael, the Labour Party, Sinn Féin, the Progressive Democrats, the Alliance Party, the Green Party, independent Dail deputies, the Women’s Coalition, independent senators, the Socialist Party and the Workers Party. In the chair is Senator Maurice Hayes, a former Ombudsman in Northern Ireland, who also served on the Patten Commission on Policing. There are no Unionist parties in attendence, although the Irish Independent has a short …

Read more…

Narrow middle ground

Henry McDonald paints a grizzly picture of the path the UUP appears to have chosen, suggesting that not only is it prejudicial to their own success, but that it can only weaken the position of their closest allies in the peace process, the moderate nationalist SDLP: “Mark Durkan looked visibly drained by the news from the Ulster Unionist Council meeting. He no doubt understands even if the unionists don’t, that their threat to pull power sharing down only strengthens Sinn …

Read more…

Unionist backroom

Public insults are part of the stock in trade of all NI political parties, with the possible exception of the SDLP the Alliance party, and the Women’s Coalition. Steven King’s extraordinary headline in last night’s Belfast Telegraph, Scumbaggery feeling squeeze, should be read within that context. In fact the message within the article is much more outreaching than the headline implies. He quotes from a recent book by Henry Patterson, to warn Unionists of the dangers of ‘hoping that the …

Read more…