Belfast Telegraph

Minister 'missed housing failure'

The housing minister failed to recognise "systemic failure" in Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) management soon enough, a political rival has claimed.

North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin said she found the tardiness of SDLP ministers extraordinary.

Minister Alex Attwood has ordered a review into a serious dispute between NIHE and one of its biggest contractors, Red Sky, as well as a wider investigation into governance at the Executive.

He outlined details of the wider review at the Assembly.

Ms Ni Chuilin said: "I find it extraordinary that in his party's watch, almost at the end of their term, they are only realising now that there is systemic failure at senior level of management of the Housing Executive."

The minister sent a team into the Housing Executive last October. The fall-out centres mainly, but not exclusively, in west Belfast amid controversy over how work was carried out by Red Sky and how the Housing Executive oversaw it.

Red Sky emphatically denies carrying out any substandard work or that it has been involved in any financial irregularities.

A wider governance review of the Executive has also been carried out.

Mr Attwood said Red Sky had until the end of the month to reply.

He said: "I don't understand how Mrs Ni Chuilin can say to this House that she finds it extraordinary. That same party, if it felt that there was systemic failure over the last year or two or three years or four years, they had an obligation politically and to their constituents to bring that to the attention of the Housing Executive, bring it to the DSD (Department for Social Development) minister, produce the evidence that there was."

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