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.



September 5, 2008

All I seem to hear lately is that the cost of everything is…rising. A typical eye-watering example is the impending hike in electricity prices as reported in the Belfast Telegraph on 4.9.08: Electricity bills to rocket by 30%. Robin Morton reports:-

“Northern Ireland Electricity is poised to hit consumers with an increase of up to £160 a year, the Belfast Telegraph has learned.

Details of the new tariffs, which will take effect on October 1, are still being finalised in negotiations between NIE Energy, the Utility Regulator and the Consumer Council.

But it looks likely that the increase — to be announced next week — will be between 30% and 36%, and it’s all down to the soaring wholesale cost of gas.

At present, the average household bill stands at £439 a year, but the proposed increase could put this figure up to just under £600.

And in a depressing double whammy for over-stretched families, Phoenix Natural Gas is also set next week to announce a double digit increase, to also take effect on October 1.

In May, Phoenix increased its tariff by 28%, a move which sparked complaints from fuel poverty groups. And last month, Maxol Direct revealed that the price of home heating oil in Northern Ireland has risen by around 80% in the last year.”

Now.. wow…THAT is Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Talk: Gambling.

February 14, 2008

To-day we have the breaking story of one Graham Calvert, 28 years old and a gambler who lost. And he lost big time. The beeb tells the story well but it’s on all the airways downhole1.gifso you’ll hardly have missed it! Check here to start with:- How a gambling addict lost £2.1m

Interesting…isn’t it? This successful young guy is obviously pretty talented when it comes to his career but can’t say no to a bet. In his case he bet in thousands not pounds and even bet £347,000 on America to win the 2006 Ryder Cup. Now setting aside, for the moment, the thought that anyone who bets the gormless Yanks to win a team golf game gets everything he deserves when he loses….. don’t you feel just a little sorry for the guy?

Time was you had to go into a bookies to place a bet or take the trouble to join a casino or travel to a race track but now…. just lifting the phone or logging on to a website gives you instant access 365/24/7 to thousands of ways to lose your savings!

The evidence is that Graham figured he had a problem. Of course, like all gamblers, he only figured he had a problem on the days he lost! On the days he won he probably thought he’d found a really easy way to turn a profit and make quick money.

So what’s to be made of Graham’s suing of the bookmakers for £2.1 Million? The grounds of the case are that he “self-excluded” from gambling and closed his account with William Hill. The BBC have a transcript of the call when he closed his account.

This is what was said:-

J: “Hi Mr Calvert , you’re through to John, team leader here. I understand you want to close the account?”

GC: “Yes please, yeah.”

J : “Can you tell me why that is please?”

GC: “‘Cos it’s just far too easy to gamble.”

J: “Right, so do you want to be self-excluded at this point then? Which means you will not be able to open the account with us again within the next six months?”

GC: “That’s right, aye.”

J: “Right, well, what I’ll do is I’ll pass on all the relevant information.”

GC: “Right.”

J: “The account will now be closed, you will not be able to open it within the next six months.”

After a discussion about returning the remaining funds in the account to Mr Calvert, he’s told by J: “But the money will be returned to your account and the account will now be closed for the next six months.

“You will not be allowed to open it under any circumstances. You will not be allowed to bet over the phone with William Hill.”

Don’t you just love the way everything said on the phone is recorded now?

So… that should be ok then.. yes? Except, of course, as a gambler he could not resist the lure of another bet and opened another account with Hill’s, in his own name, and placed that famous Ryder Cup bet. Now he is taking the company to court and claiming that they broke their rules by allowing him to open another account within his “self- exclusion” period.

I wonder if he had won and Hill’s had refused to pay out would this guy be suing them for NOT paying out!? Just a thought…..

And so we have a fascinating court case to exercise our minds! Who’s responsible for a gambler’s actions? The gambler or the bookie? At what point does a bookie have to say to someone… “Enough .. no more… stop throwing your money away!”

So… what do you think? Has he got a case? Did he just throw his money down a bottomless hole or does the bookie really have to exercise a duty of care to the punter?

If Graham wins this case can bookies continue to operate at all?



Lost pension rescue scheme boosted

December 17, 2007

What a piece of GOOD news for all the people whose lives have been blighted by this terrible pension scandal. The good news comes in this Reuters report (Lost pension rescue scheme boosted ) of a government announcement to-day (Monday December 17th)

The Reuters report says:-Peter Hain - from Peterhain.org

The government announced more help on Monday for 141,000 people who lost their pensions when their company schemes were wound up.

Work and Pensions Secretary Peter Hain said a state-backed fund will be boosted by 935 million pounds to guarantee 90 percent of the value of the pensions.

Hain said the improvements represent “a generous and appropriate final settlement” for workers who had lost their pensions through no fault of their own.

Congratulations Peter Read the rest of this entry »

Connect2: Going for £3.15 Million for NI!

November 27, 2007

Received this from Joanne McCartan McLaughlin over at CONNECT2…. very interesting!

I need you to VOTE and pass this on to all your friends and connections and anyone you think might be able to help get NI some votes…. ok!?



WWW.THEPEOPLES50MILLION.ORG.UK is where you can vote NOW until 10th December.

(note: you will have to REGISTER in order to vote but that only takes 2 minutes. It needs a valid email address!)


Have you ever wondered what life would be like if we were able to travel in ways that improved your health and the environment? We’d have safer communities, cleaner air and a better quality of life.

Sustrans’ Connect2 project is a real chance to achieve this in your area. The project aims to improve local travel in 79 communities around the UK by creating new walking and cycling networks for your everyday journeys.

By means of bridges, tunnels and other crossings, Connect2 will overcome barriers like busy roads, rivers and railways so you can get to where you want to go by foot or bike. With each new crossing linking to a local network of walking and cycling routes, you’ll have direct access to your local schools, shops and work, as well as green spaces.

Local travel will Read the rest of this entry »

Money, Money, Money.

November 6, 2007

It seemed like an eternity. The people of Northern Ireland had voted and the people they voted for, instead of working together in government, avoided each other. money1.jpgThese MLA’s were paid for and received, a song by Dire Straits springs to mind, money for nothing.

Now they, the money for nothing MLA’s, seem to want to change the lyrics to Money For No One.

Young People
Northern Irish ministers have been accused of delivering “a kick in the teeth” to youth workers by proposing a massive budget cut.

The Arts
Northern Ireland’s cultural industry has been left reeling by the announcement of further cuts in its funding, which arts council chairman Rosemary Kelly has said is “tantamount to sounding a death knell over large areas of arts activity” in the region.

What’s next, health? Maybe, education?

I reckon that money paid a large part in finally getting the two main Northern Irish political parties back to work. Maybe money will again play a major part in the ‘peace process’ and when the people vote again they’ll not vote for the politicians who are presently announcing all these cuts.


Wiped Out – Skint?

October 10, 2007

So.. I’ve been talking to a lass tonight about money – hard subject I know but let’s stick with it for a moment.

Here’s the argument she made in a nutshell:-
money1.jpg 1. I’m young.
2. I’m skint.
3. I’m working as HARD as I can and getting absolutely no-where.
“So what?” I hear you ask, “I was the same when I was a student….”

But, for a moment, can you forget the old arguments that you have used on your weans at university. Basically every week you argue with them that:-

  • they drink too much;
  • they don’t study enough;
  • why the f**k are they’re going to Rome/Rhodes/Dublin/Boston etc etc for a week when they have work to do?
  • etc..etc

Seriously Read the rest of this entry »