Politicians seem to hate the C word. Journalists seem wary of using it. But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, its a big ducking member of the Anatidaen variety.
I’m talking about the fact that the Northern Ireland Civil Service, colluded with Sinn Fein and DUP Ministers to ensure no minutes of sensitive meetings were taken. As this is now a matter for the Information Commissioner, I believe we will hear more about this in the future, but it at least confirms what I sensed was happening by some of the information requests I have made in relation to Shale Gas and Fracking.
Quite how this plays with regards to Ministerial misconduct, with regards to the standards in Public life for the NICS is another matter.
The BBC reports it thus. No Mention of corruption. But it is corruption, when the head of the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service states that minutes of meetings were not taken to frustrate Freedom of Information requests. It may not be extortive corruption, but would certainly fall into the category of collusive corruption.
Its worth noting here there already an exemption in the Freedom of Information legislation that allows Departments to withhold information if it is in the course of completion or if it concerns matters which are internal of nature. (and any lowly NICS person will be able to quote you it almost as if its part of their initiation ceremony), so while one must take the explanation at face value at the current time, I find it hard, given those in the NICS I know, and those who have served in the NICS I know, that this is wholly accurate… there being a great deal of ‘protect thy back’ at work, particularly in the higher echelons of the service. Ie the taking of minutes allows one to show proof of a course of action, and accountability for decisions.
“In no other part of the UK do politicians, by themselves, conduct final stage interviews for top Civil Service positions.”
There is another tier to this which was mentioned by Sam McBride. The selection of top posts in NICS was brought ‘inhouse’ by SF and DUP. The reality is that we need an open democracy more than ever. We need an independent Civil Service. What has happened is corrupt and has brought both paid and elected Public Service into disrepute. For more on corruption and the two types of corruption this short video by David Whyte illuminates how collusive corruption works.
What also needs to be established is whether minutes of meetings internally in the NICS are currently being minuted ? We are seeing many decisions being taken, without Ministerial oversight presently. We have budget allocations and planning decisions being taken all without an accountable elected politician.
So there you have it, the people who were elected to serve the Public, and the people who are paid to serve the Public, colluded to deny the Public information which is theirs by right. I’m sure it quacks like a duck too, and stinks to high heaven.