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Belfast Telegraph Belatedly Sets the Record Straight

Belfast Telegraph Belatedly Sets the Record Straight

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Published by Nevin
Congratulations to the Belfast Telegraph for finally admitting that its reportage of the Rathlin ferry contract investigations report of December 2008 contained significant errors and lapses.

Perhaps the Department for Regional Development, Northern Ireland, will have sufficient courage to set its record straight too. It's well past time that public representatives and officials stepped up to the mark.
Congratulations to the Belfast Telegraph for finally admitting that its reportage of the Rathlin ferry contract investigations report of December 2008 contained significant errors and lapses.

Perhaps the Department for Regional Development, Northern Ireland, will have sufficient courage to set its record straight too. It's well past time that public representatives and officials stepped up to the mark.

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Published by: Nevin on Sep 01, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/09/2010

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Government unmasked ferry safety'whistleblower'
Wednesday, 10 December 2008A potential whistleblower who raised safety concerns about the ferry he worked on was unmaskedwhen the Government sent his personal details to his employer, it was revealed today.An official's decision to forward the emailed complaint to the operator of the Rathlin Island servicein Northern Ireland, without shielding his identity, has been highlighted by a probe into the transfer of the £3 million contract to run ferries between the remote island and the Co Antrim coast.Independent investigators, who have identified a series of errors in the Stormont administration's procurement process, described the email incident as an error of judgment that should never havehappened.While their report found no evidence to support any of the allegations the employee made againstRathlin Island Ferry Ltd, it said his confidentiality should have been respected by the Department of Regional Development.The man no longer works for the company.The DRD acknowledged its official had made a mistake but said no disciplinary action would betaken because the incident did not represent a breach of data protection regulations.The email was sent in July this year, a week after Rathlin Island Ferry replaced Scottish companyCalmac** as the operator of the passenger service between Ballycastle and the island.All ferry staff who had worked for Calmac, which had been operating the six-mile crossing since1996, were transferred into the employment of the new operator as part of the contract deal.The decision to change the operator triggered a flurry of complaints to the DRD, prompting them toinitiate an inquiry into the contract award, which had originally been handled by the Department of Finance's Central Procurement Directorate (CPD).Auditors and other independent experts were asked to investigate a number of claims, includingallegations the award was politically motivated and the process was not transparent.The DRD also tasked the team to probe claims of misconduct concerning its staff, among them theincident with the email and another allegation that staff harassed and bullied a ferry employee.Their final report, which was published today, pinpointed a number of procedural mistakes in the procurement process but said there was no evidence to suggest there was an attempt by CPD tomanipulate the outcome of process, or that the contract was awarded to the wrong operator.The investigators found that the CPD had used a different scoring framework in judging the two bidders from the one they originally sent out to the operators.However, they said this had not effected the outcome and, based on value for money criteria,Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd still represented the best option.The report did question why a performance bond, which would compel either party to compensatethe other if they broke the terms of the £50,000 a year agreement, was not included in the contract between the new operator and DRD when it was an original requirement of the deal.Investigators did acknowledge that such a bond was never part of the previous contract withCalmac.The bullying claim centred on the treatment of a Calmac employee in the period before the transfer when DRD was attempting to provide the new company with information about the service.The employee said DRD staff had harassed him when he declined to copy log book information

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