Friday, December 31, 2010

Northern Ireland Executive posturing with respect to water disruption is pathetic

It is a bit rich for the Northern Ireland Executive to posture like Pontius Pilate adorned in Teflon with respect to the shambolic performance of Northern Ireland Water.

This public utility monopoly is controlled by them. The sacking of four non-executive directors last July following the disclosure of 73 irregular contracts with a value of £28.4 million over a 3-year period must have been the consequence of a legacy of shoddy oversight by the Department of Regional Development.

The interim board was directly selected and appointed by Conor Murphy, Minister for Regional Development last August - outside the Code of Practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Personal choice cannot therefore be divorced from direct responsibility.

The Chairman is paid £45,000 per year on the basis of no more than typically three or four days attendance per month, a considerable outlay for dry taps, parched livestock and toilets that don’t flush in tens of thousands of Ulster homes in mid winter.

Surely the buck now stops with Conor Murphy and, if heads are to roll, should his not be first in line to underline his accountability in this primitive, disruptive debacle before the entire board of directors suffer the inevitable consequences of systemic, failure that is not merely attributable to circumstances of force majeure ? That gesture would be the essence of accountability and good governance at the highest level and it would emphasise the importance of effective risk evaluation and customer service in a monopoly utility.

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