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.