Why did Sinn Fein feel compelled to invent ‘malicious’ untruths about Declan Gormley?

This morning in the High Court, both Sinn Fein’s and Declan Gormley’s counsels will be making their cases on the figure in damages to be reached by the jury in Sinn Fein malicious libel trial. We should have a figure to run with by lunchtime. As Tom Kelly – rather prophetically – warned back in 2007 (long before Mr Gormley had even been appointed been appointed to Northern Ireland Water), Martin McGuinness’s promise to put manners on Civil Servants, was … Read more

“the tribunal finds the minister’s evidence is implausible and lacks credibility” [Updated]

If you thought the controversy around NI Water and the then NI Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy, MP, MLA, had gone away, think again.  The BBC reports that an industrial  tribunal has found that Alan Lennon, a Protestant overlooked for the post of chairman of NI Water in March 2011, was discriminated against on religious grounds.  From the BBC report In March 2011, Mr Murphy appointed a Catholic as chairman, Sean Hogan, ahead of four others shortlisted after interview, all … Read more

Murphy: “The person who has responsibility for dealing with these things is me”*

Conor Murphy’s line today on the leaked PAC report is strangely reminiscent of his party colleague, the chair of the PAC, Paul Maskey. But it is also in line with his own original interview with Jamie Delargy in UTV’s Stormy Water special back in August, that this was all about procurement issues, not the misdirection of process at the most senior levels of his own department. The draft report of the PAC agrees the breaches were serious, but that this … Read more

NI Water: PAC chair complains about leaked report to UTV…

As Pete noted earlier, the chair of Stormont’s Public Accounts Committee, Paul Maskey is not best pleased that a copy of that committee’s draft report has found its way into the hands of Jamie Delargy of UTV.  Not surprisingly, since as Maskey points out, it is not yet been official adopted by the committee. Mr Maskey is on record as saying that in his role as PAC chair he has to leave his political baggage at the door. Yet as … Read more

NI Water: How Murphy’s sackings left MacKenzie accountable directly to DRD

Fed up with drinking copious amounts of Northern Ireland Water stories on Slugger? Not as fed up as I am writing them. We kicked off back in July after that PAC when no one but the Belfast Telegraph (who have taken a ‘MacKenzie loyalist’ line throughout), whilst an industrious Jamie Delargy was working on it  sub rosa at UTV was giving it anything more than a cursory glance. Six months later, a Chief Executive has gone and Regional Development, has … Read more

NI Water: How Mr MacKenzie jettisoned millions in commercial savings…

Adrian Rutherford was pretty close to the mark with his suggestion in Wednesday night’s paper edition of the Belfast Telegraph that Northern Ireland Water may have been ordered by the courts to pay out up to £10 Million in back payments to the French IT contractor Steria. In dispute had been payments for services to enable the charging of domestic water rates. Water rates which, of course, were never collected. To paraphrase NI Water’s Chief Executive’s presentation to the Public Accounts … Read more

NI Water: Isn’t it time we were told what’s really been going there?

The Belfast Telegraph have a special piece in yesterday’s paper, which notes at the end just how little the general public understand the Northern Ireland Water story. Hardly surprising, since it has become almost the definitive insider’s insider story. Yet it is striking too that so few in the press appear able to convincingly explain the context for the first ever suspension of a Permanent Secretary in the history of Northern Ireland. Nor why the Northern Ireland Consumer Council would … Read more

NI Water: So just how many STAs was DRD using?

This Assembly Questions to the DRD Minister Conor Murphy should flush out some interesting answers about the use of Single Tender Actions inside the Department: 2. Mr P McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister for Regional Development how many single tender actions were issued by (i) Roads Service; (ii) Translink; and (iii) the Harbour Commissioner in (a) 2005/06; (b) 2006/07; (c) 2007/08; (d) 2008/09; and (e) 2009/10. 3. Mr P McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister for Regional … Read more

NI Water: Minister failed to pick up Board’s early questions about Dixon?

Okay, another bullish performance from Minister Murphy here on the UTV report, though it is rare to see such a normally competent performer stuck for words in front of a camera. What’s complicated things for him was the robust nature of the questioning from Conall McDevitt, on the amount of work the Minister did to come to his conclusion that the Independent Review Team was indeed independent. He reasonably asserts that he cannot be across all the correspondence coming in … Read more

NI Water: CEO crunched by dual responsibilities?

By demand, here’s a chart explaining the different primary relationships within and between DRD and NI Water. The complexity was introduced by the introdcution of the designation “Sub Accounting Officer” for the CEO, Mr McKenzie. It may or may not make things clearer for those of you who still care. This was on foot of a Treasury regulation which kicked in when the central ‘subsidy’ for Water Rates hit a certain level. Although Lian Patterson, the deputy Perm Sec told … Read more

NI Water: DRD kept their ‘demonstrable independence’ hidden from Commissioner

Yesterday’s written answer from the Minister of DRD to Patsy McGlone’s AQW will bring some disquiet, particularly in light of the aribitrary manner by which his department dealt with the last Board at NI Water. What DRD understands by the word ‘independent’ is not something many people in business or the wider world would recognise. But this is DRD world, where ‘independence’ – it seems – is just a state of mind… For example the minister tells us he received an … Read more

NI Water: Were the IRT’s Terms of Reference ‘Gerrymandered’?

The latest we hear is that DRD/NIW are having problems getting anyone to take on the role of chairman of NI Water. Slugger understands that a number of individuals have declined an approach. It is not difficult to see why. As a careful reading of the final report makes clear the IRT itself did not believe there was a substantive connection between the CEO’s problems with a Board that refused to rescind his resignation and the report’s headline problem of … Read more