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From: Declan O'Loan]

Sent: 14 December 2008 21:31

To: 7-FM (News); Ballymena Guardian (Editor); Ballymena Guardian (Meghan);


Ballymena Guardian (News); Ballymena Guardian (Reporters); Elinor Glynn; Michael
McGlade; Dessie Blackadder; Ballymoney Chronicle (news); BALLYMONEY Times; Lyle
McMullan; BBC News; BBC Talkback; Belfast Telegraph (editor); Belfast Telegraph
(News); Coleraine Chronicle; Irish Daily Star (news); Irish News (Barry
McCaffrey); Irish News (Editor); Irish News (Maeve Connolly); Irish News (News);
Irish Times (news); Liam Clarke; Martina Purdy (at BBC); Michael McHugh; Darwin
Templeton; Gemma Murray; Newsletter Newsdesk; Orla Black (Council usual); Orla
Black (hotmail); Press Association; Q97 Radio; SDLP (James Dillon); SDLP (Ruairi
O'Kane); SDLP (Seamus Murphy); SDLP (Sharon Haughey); UTV News; Declan O'Loan MLA
Subject: Statement : O’Loan supports findings of Rathlin Ferry investigation that
the contract was awarded correctly

Statement 14 December 2008

_________________________________________________________________________________

Declan O’Loan MLA

(Constituency Office) 64 William Street, Ballymena, County Antrim, BT43 6AW

___________________________________________
_____________________________________

O’Loan supports findings of Rathlin Ferry investigation that the contract was
awarded correctly

SDLP MLA Declan O’Loan has stated his support for the findings of a major
investigation into the awarding of the contract for the Rathlin Island ferry. The
contract was awarded in April 2008 to Mr Ciaran O’Driscoll, operating as Rathlin
Island Ferry limited. A number of complaints were subsequently made about the
tendering process and the early stages of the new operation. The report concludes
that despite some errors in the procurement process, there was no manifest error
in the award of the contract.

Declan O’Loan said “I accept the conclusion of the report. The investigation was
a substantial one, and the main report runs to over 80 pages. I believe that the
investigation was thorough and that I can trust its conclusions.”

“There were indeed errors and these are presented in the report. But they were
not such as to overturn the overall outcome. I believe that the contract was
properly awarded.”

“Now is the time to look to the future. There is already a much improved service
with the alternation of a fast passenger-only boat along with the previous
vehicle-carrying vessel. Improved disability provisions are part of the plan. A
new vessel for the passenger-only service is promised for 2009, and this must
happen. Everyone should now pull together to ensure that Rathlin Island receives
the best service for both residents and visitors.”
“I am very concerned about the errors in process that did occur. I am a member of
the Assembly’s Finance Committee which has just started an inquiry into public
procurement. The Rathlin Report found it necessary to make 12 recommendations to
ensure proper process. I am bringing this report and the recommendations to the
Committee to form part of its scrutiny. It is clear to me that for all the
assurances that we get from the Central Procurement Directorate that all is far
from well in public procurement. This will have to change.”

(ends)

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