WATER BOARD CEO-Laurence MacKenzie resignation statement: BBC NEWS

January 6, 2011

BBC News – In full: Laurence MacKenzie resignation statement.

I’m not renowned for my understanding nods and sympathetic supportive comments when civil servants make massive mistakes and leave us hanging out to dry but the recent treatment of Northern Ireland Water CEO Laurence MacKenzie does NOT serve us well.

It is very difficult to see what this fall guy could have done to prevent the recent water crisis.

  • He did not control the last 50 years of underspend on water infrastructure that meant so many aged and under-maintained pipes were not fit for purpose- the government did! Let’s sack a politician.
  • He did not decide the current budget allocation to NI Water that allows for the employment of staff, the man hours for meticulous disaster planning and the bulk purchase and storage of massive water relief aid if disaster strikes – the government did! Let’s sack a politician.
  • He did not control the weather and since these conditions were “unprecedented” it seems a bit harsh to put the guy’s career in the freezer over something that our weather experts did not predict!

It seems to me that the correct head to roll here is that of a politician.

It is time for Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy to take political responsibility for the failing of his department. Now, since he too could not have foreseen this particular set of circumstances, I’m sure Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness could then post him to some other department where we can await patiently his not foreseeing some other impending disaster.

At least by one of them resigning our politicians would show some element of  political maturity, an ounce of the accountability they currently avoid by all means possible and Laurence MacKenzie could use the disaster we’ve experienced as leverage to get the situation sorted out before it all happens again.

BUT… here’s my prediction of what will happen now MacKenzie’s resignation has been accepted:-

  • no politicians resign and this behaviour just re-enforces the public perception that ALL POLITICIANS are merely self-serving, money grabbing, morally corrupt incompetents;
  • the disaster will be used as a rationale for the privatisation of the water utility in Northern Ireland;
  • a nice shiny new CEO will be appointed to the latest money making exercise. No doubt he/she will be  all cleanly washed and buffed to a shine and will then proceed to take a massive salary for “sorting out the problem” . He/she will fail in this task and the abject failure will only be highlighted when we have prolonged droughts and/or another session on Mother Nature’s freezer. By the time all this happens the politicians will have moved on, made even more money from having done nothing but jabber and the NI public will be paying through the pocket for private shareholders to rake in big dividends while the water system continues to corrode beneath our streets.

Am I wrong in my prediction? I do hope so but I doubt it.


BBC News – City council wins right-of-way

June 25, 2010

Well done to Derry City Council!

BBC News – City council wins right-of-way.

Many a photo I’ve taken  of that bridge!


‘Tis an ill wind?

January 29, 2010

No matter where I wander in recent times I seem to be coming across what can only be called a blight on the landscape. Now.. anybody that knows me will be aware that I like my technology. I like it new, I like it up-to-date and I’m a real fan of the cutting edge. If it’s modern, new, cool… then I have to say I’m a sucker for instant purchase. I am…. a modern technology ad man’s dream!

But, and it’s a big but, I’m becoming really quite worried about one piece of modern technology that is beginning to blight the landscape. I’m getting pretty concerned by the massive growth in wind farms. Yes…. I’m told they are better than oil fired power stations, cleaner than the coal fired varieties and safer than the nuclear option but …boy oh boy are they UGLY! A true blight on the landscape.

Every journey through the Sperrins or anywhere on the coast of Donegal, where the magnificence  of the scenery used to lift the heart, now has the potential to make me wince. Everywhere I look the white stalks of the ugly whirling dervishes pierce the flesh of the mountains. Our fabulous forests now compete for space with these gigantuan man-made monstrosities.

A Wind Farm on the hills of Donegal. (Click for full image.)

Forgive me if this insults the Greenies among my readers, but I have to ask, ” Is it worth it?”

Is destroying a landscape worth the 50 pence worth of electricity that these German manufactured monsters are producing?

Now I see that we are set for a massive hike in the  number and size of these wind farms  – BWEA News – where I’m told:-

“By 2010, across the UK as a whole, the onshore wind industry could generate 50 per cent more electricity than previously predicted, expecting to install 6,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity, generating almost 5 per cent of UK electricity supply, avoiding up to 13 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and delivering nearly half of the Government’s 2010 renewable energy target, according to a report published by the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) today (27 March 2006).”

And BWEA goes on to tell me:-

About wind energy in Northern Ireland:

  • There are already 12 wind farms totalling 107 MW generating in Northern Ireland, representing 8 per cent of the UK’s current wind power portfolio, including the newly commissioned 13 MW Callagheen project near Belleck in County Fermanagh.Do we need all of these?
  • New wind farms identified for completion by 2010 will bring Northern Ireland’s total to 543 MW, representing 9 per cent of the UK’s total forecast build by 2010.
  • 543 MW of onshore wind will generate 1.4 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in an average year, assuming 30 per cent capacity factor as applies across the UK, equivalent to the annual electricity needs of over 300,000 homes.
  • Economic benefits accruing from wind energy development in Northern Ireland by 2020 include £35 million in landowner income and £11 million in payments to local communities
  • A target has been set for 12 per cent of electricity demand to be generated by renewables in Northern Ireland by 2012/13.

Am I the only one who is worried by this build up?

Does anyone else care? Can anyone assure me that, at the very least, we’re destroying some of more spectacular views for a worthwhile cause?

No Dog Owners Prosecuted in Derry!!

January 9, 2009

The Derry Journal reports, No dog owners prosecuted in Derry last year:-

“Only one fixed penalty for dog fouling was served in Derry last year while fewer than two fines per week for littering were served in the same period.

Figures released to the ‘Journal’ reveal that, while a total of 148 fines were issued in relation to irresponsible dog owner offences, only one related to a dog owner failing to clean up after their dog.”

Now… there’s a strange thing! Anyone who takes the air along

Beside the Derry City Council Offices

Beside the Derry City Council Offices

the fabulous River Walk in front of the Derry City Council Offices will be familiar with the ritual of trying to avoid the hundturds of dog fouls along that route. I find it hard to understand how the councilors, and the city chief executive, can avoid stepping in the dirt on the way to their plush offices. But.. it’s obvious that they have found a way to avoid seeing the mess we walk in. Maybe if we moved their car park a little further away from the offices they might notice the fouling problem and do something about it? What ya think?

Personally, I pity the folk with children who use this path. Over Christmas it was a delight to see scores of parents using the facility to teach their kiddies to control their bikes in a really safe, traffic wise, envoronment. A great use of the space, wouldn’t you say?

What was not so good was see parents having to constantly point out the masses of dog dirt and warn the kids to avoid them. Needless to say…. not all parents were successful… well they are learners too! Some sparkling new bikes needed cleaning! A nice task on Christmas morning.

Now.. not all the dog owners who use this space abuse this place. I see many with the dog/dogs on a lead and the required cleaning equipment. BUT.. I also see many owners who allow their dogs to roam without a lead and who fail to notice the little/large messages their pets leave the city councilors! Come on guys… maybe its guide dogs you need if you can’t see what your pets are down to. 🙂

So.. well done to The Derry Journal for raising the issue. Now.. how about the city godfathers getting the dog warden to get the place cleaned up?

Ballyliffin Golf Course

July 19, 2008

So.. I took this wee picture on 23rd April 2008 on the tee of the 13th on Ballyliffin’s Glashedy Course….

That is Glashedy Island out there…..

Ballyliffin, 13th Tee Glashedy

Ballyliffin, 13th Tee Glashedy

Heron on the Foyle at Quigley’s Point

July 15, 2008

So.. there I was of an evening in Spring just watching the sun go down on Lough Foyle when a heron took off….

’nuff said..


Ness Woods, Derry, Northern Ireland

April 8, 2008

Peaceful…. eh?