By Geoff McGimpsey
Happy new year! So 2011 has arrived… bringing with it a fully blown water crisis, a VAT rise and the death of Gerry Rafferty. January truly is the most miserable of all months.
Despite Laurence MacKenzie’s departure, the catastrophe of NI Water is threatening to engulf the devolved Executive. The principle that a Minister cannot be removed irrespective of performance or public opinion is a source of ire among bloggers.
Jeff Peel’s Dairy is emblematic of a growing view that “… the buck should stop at the Minister. The Executive, and an unquestioning Assembly, are more responsible for under-investment in Northern Ireland’s water infrastructure than the body required to deliver such investment.”
Perhaps Conor Murphy has been foolish, but Rodney McCune’s blog feels that the system which permits foolishness needs to be recast.
“We don’t need to have second rate public services run by a second rate Executive,” he blogged. “We have capable and able alternatives and it is high time we get them in there and get them running things. Conor Murphy may be a fool, but he isn’t the only one.”
Similarly, while some blame the individual, A Tangled Web blames the state. According to David Vance: “This utility needs fundamental change and massive investment and it seems to me that only a change of ownership away from the State and into private hands will suffice.”
East Belfast Diary agrees the present system with Go-Cos needs to be reviewed. “The Minister is blaming NI Water senior management and says he has no cause to resign. Senior managers are blaming the weather and under-investment… This incident should provoke a debate about accountability in Government Owned Companies.”
But at least one twitterer bravely ponders whether the defenestration of Laurence MacKenzie doesn’t represent some cruel and unusual punishment. According to @CB_PRandPA: “I think we might have a new understanding of being ‘water-boarded’. Surely NIW CEO has rights under a UN convention?”