Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

The buck stops with ministers, not NI Water

The reason why Northern Ireland Water delayed seeking the mutual aid to which it was entitled, despite 60,000 homes being without water, will no doubt be answered in the inquiry being set up to investigate this fiasco.

That NIW was entitled to call on that assistance to obtain "tanks or bowsers, communications experts, engineers" (according to Pamela Taylor of Water UK) but failed to call in that assistance until very late in the day seems astonishing - given the problems being faced by those on the ground.

However, given that the duty of those in positions of leadership is to accept responsibility where there is fault, it seems equally surprising that the minister responsible for the affairs of NIW, whose department is the main shareholder and who has micromanaged the appointment and dismissal of its board members - Conor Murphy - should establish an inquiry that excludes any consideration of the role of his own department.

This shirking of responsibility is also evident in the statement of the Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, who had the audacity to comment: "The buck stops with Northern Ireland Water."

With power comes responsibility. Regrettably, until our system of government becomes more accountable, any acceptance of responsibility (in the unlikely event that it did come) would only involve the replacement of one party member with another.

CLLR TOM CAMPBELL (Alliance)

Newtownabbey Borough Council

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