Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Belfast Harbour Sponsorship of Belfast Media Group Organised New York Conference on June 9 - 10, 2010

Meanwhile, I hear the SDLP-leaning press in Belfast is having another pop at the Board of NI Water. ... Máirtín Ó Muilleoir
Belfast Harbour Commissioners are appointed by Conor Murphy, the SF Minister for Regional Development, so why is Belfast Harbour sponsoring a project which has such close links to Sinn Fein?

Belfast Harbour responses to a series of questions:

1] What was the total expenditure by Belfast Harbour on this conference?

A: Principal sponsorship for the New York, New Belfast conference amounted to £20,000 exc. VAT. An additional cost of £900 was generated through the provision of Belfast Harbour branded delegate bags to organisers of the conference

2] Has Belfast Harbour participated in or financially supported other events organised by Belfast Media Group in the past five years? If so, please list.

A: Belfast Harbour had two delegates in attendance (free of charge) at one session of the City of Quarters Conference in March 2010. This session was held in the Harbour Office and the event was facilitated as part of our annual corporate responsibility programme. Previously Belfast Harbour Office played host to Belfast Media Group’s Top 40 Under 40 Awards. It was one of 104 events staged hosted by Belfast Harbour that year within the 2008 corporate responsibility programme.

3] Can you please provide copies of correspondence between Belfast Harbour (or its representative) and the conference organisers which relate to this event?

A: Please see attached copy correspondence as requested, all of which is in email form.

4] Can you please provide copies of correspondence between Belfast Harbour (or its representative) and the DRD Minister and his officials/staff which relate to this event?

A: No such correspondence exists.

Here are some quotes from the Ó Muilleoir-Belfast Harbour emails:

p4/26 Contracting arrangements - can't write a [£20,000] sponsorship cheque to Belfast Media Group and need an apolitical solution. 01/12/09 9.00am

p3/26 Contracting solution for these not-for-profit events - Make out cheque to our charitable arm Nuachtain Charities, to the Irish Echo, or directly to New York New Belfast Conference which will have its own bank account 01/12/09 9.29am

p6/26 Need you guys to decide on sponsorship - best suggestion is .. that sponsorship cheque is made out to 'New York New Belfast conference' 15/12/09 11.53am

newyorknewbelfast.com is registered to Belfast Media Group so why didn't Belfast Harbour maintain its apolitical stance?

Ó Muilleoir has been appointed as an additional non-executive director (NED) to the Northern Ireland Water Board in the 'community confidence' category. Who decided to make this additional appointment, when was it decided and were the Commissioner for Public Appointments and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland informed of the change? The names of the new NEDs were announced on June 30 yet the Ó Muilleoir letter of acceptance is dated July 1.

Paul Priestly, the suspended DRD Permanent Secretary, was a speaker at the Belfast Media Group organised New York conference; he was also involved in the selection of the NEDs. Was an interest declared?

CCNI reply: "The Consumer Council found out about the appointment of the additional NED to the board of NI Water on 30 June 2010."