John Dallat of the SDLP, a long-standing member of Stormont’s Public Accounts Committee was among those to receive recognition in the ‘Slugger Awards’ in Belfast last week. Together with his party colleague Patsy McGlone and Independent Member Dawn Purvis they lifted the title of ‘Best Constructive Opposition’.
In their deliberations the panel felt it was important to mark out for special attention the names of those committee members who they felt had played an outstanding leadership role in their handling of the Northern Ireland water issue - not least in asking the right questions and refusing to be fobbed off with evasive or insubstantial answers. The panel felt it was an important example to others - in a system that has woefully poor provision for rigorous scrutiny.
Speaking afterwards he said: “I am pleased that recognition has been given for the work of the Public Accounts Committee and the work they do to create accountability for public money spent by the various government departments, their agencies and arms-length bodies.
“Patsy and Dawn have been a great addition to the committee and have been a joy to work with.
‘The scandal at NI Water began last July when witnesses representing NI Water gave evidence to the PAC and were less than impressive and set in motion a chain of events which was to lead to the suspension of the Permanent Secretary and eventually the resignation of the Chief Executive.
“Regrettably NI Water isn’t the only body delivering public utilities which isn’t fit for purpose and it is the responsibility of the PAC to uncover wrongdoing where it exists, identify waste or fraud and put forward recommendations which will improve the services under scrutiny.
‘The Slugger Award is important because it endorses what I have been involved in and provides a shield against those who have gone to enormous lengths to damage and discredit the PAC Committee.”