Minister referred to PPS over rail upgrade report

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Northern Ireland’s Transport Minister is to be referred to the Public Prosecution Service by a Stormont committee over the Derry to Belfast railway line, it has been confirmed.

The Minister, UUP MLA Danny Kennedy, failed to provide a copy of a review into phase two of the rail upgrade before a deadline which expired at 1pm today (March 23, 2015), the Committee for Regional Development said in a statement.

The committee is examining why the cost of the railway work almost doubled to £40m from its original estimate.

In a statement, the Committee for Regional Development said: “The Committee for Regional Development today agreed to refer the Minister for Regional Development to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for failing to respond to a requirement to produce a Project Assessment Review (PAR) report prepared by the Major Project Authority of the Cabinet Office into the Coleraine to Derry/Londonderry Phase 2 Railway project.

“The Minister had been served with a notice under section 44 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 to produce the PAR report by 1.00pm today. The Minister has not produced the report and as agreed at an emergency meeting this morning the Committee is to refer the matter to the PPS for consideration by the Director of Public Prosecutions.”

East Derry MLAs John Dallat, a Member of the Committee for Regional Development, and Cathal Ó hOisín, strongly criticized Mr Kennedy for his failure to deliver a copy of the Public Assessment Review (PAR).

Speaking at Stormont on Monday, the Minister defended his failure to deliver the report: “The Committee for Regional Development has made repeated requests for sight of the project assessment review (PAR) report produced for the Department in September 2014.

“The department has been consistent in its position that it will share the report with the committee following the conclusion of the procurement process, which is under way.

“However, it is not in a position to do so immediately due to sensitivity around the commercial confidentiality of the report. The scope of the review has been released to the committee already.”

He added: “I should tell the House that there is an ongoing competition.

“I have taken the view that the report should be released when the competition is complete but not before then. I also want to stress that I have acted throughout on legal advice. I believe that I have not breached the law in any respect.”

Meanwhile, the Minister also fielded questions at Stormont on Monday about general investment in the transport infrastructure of the North West.

Responding toa question from East Derry MLA John Dllat.

Mr kennedy said: “There are no areas excluded. The member will know the commitments that I have made good, particularly the reopening of the Coleraine to Derry line and the saving of that line, effectively.”