Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Department for Regional Development (NI) - Weekly Business Review

Decline and Fall

Department for Regional Development (NI) - Weekly Business Review

The Weekly Business Review (and other online documents) used to shed a little bit of light on the internal machinations of part of our public service. Even if tenderers for the Rathlin ferry contract in 2007/8 were not (all) told about the Department's intention to purchase a £1.2 m passenger ferry and a couple of RO-RO ferries at £3.15 m each they could always ferret it out from the online documents - or from Google cache if the Department decided to, er, remove said information from inquisitive eyes.

2008: Rathlin Enquiry - Paul [Priestly] said he had sought clarification on a number of timing issues associated with this issue.

is a little more informative than

2012: Ministerial Issues: Philip Robinson undertook to speak to the Minster (sic) about Rathlin.

In 2008 the then DRD Permanent Secretary appeared to be concerned about the timing of the release of a report into the awarding of the Rathlin ferry contract. The report eventually appeared at the end of the Stormont term in an unsearchable format; I spent a few days making it more user friendly. The Committee for Regional Development STILL hasn't reviewed the report despite concerns raised about procurement.

What was Philip to speak to the Minister about? Are we not entitled to know? Might the short notice suspension of the Canna's Lloyds Register class certificate and the lack of a readily available relief vessel have been on the agenda? Perhaps the failure of Rathlin Island Ferry Limited to submit its accounts to Companies House by December 31, 2011, will merit a mention.

Here's a transcript of some relevant CMAL-RIFL correspondence from 2008.