Monitoring Waterways Ireland

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure is the Northern Ireland department that shares with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the responsibility for two north–south bodies, one of which is Waterways Ireland. DCAL’s organisation is described here. And on this page, you can find the minutes of departmental board meetings.

In the minutes of the meeting held on 14 December 2011, we read:

6.0       N/S Bodies Governance (Arthur Scott) (DB 90-11)

6.1       Arthur Scott spoke to paper DB 90-11 which highlights the key differences between the DCAL Sponsorship Manual and the Financial Memorandum for N/S [North/South] Bodies and the challenges this presents for DCAL officials in seeking to draw appropriate levels of assurance for the DCAL Accounting Officer (AO).  The Board were asked to note the key actions being taken to address these challenges.  These included:

6.1.1   Ongoing work with Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG) to change the focus / nature of Waterways Ireland (WI) monitoring meetings.

6.1.2   Introduction of additional meetings between sponsor departments and the N/S Bodies to gain a better understanding of key issues and to be able to probe officials from the bodies about these.

6.1.3   A commitment by both AO’s to attend meetings about priority issues.

6.1.4   Briefing Ministers about key issues ahead of N/S Ministerial Council meetings.

6.2       The Board discussed governance and accountability arrangements and whether the Sponsorship Manual should apply the same way to N/S Bodies as it does with DCAL’s ALBs [arms-length bodies, I presume].  The Board agreed that the ALB Sponsorship Manual for DCAL, as it stands, should not apply to N/S Bodies.  Instead, a separate document is required with a starting point being the Financial Memorandum.

Action: Sinead McCartan to remove references to N/S Bodies from Sponsorship Manual.

6.3       Rosalie Flanagan said she would meet with her counterpart in DAHG, Joe Hamill, to discuss the Financial Memorandum and how DAHG draw their required assurances from it.

And in those for the following meeting, held on 21 January 2012, we read:

11.0    Quarterly Assurance Statements (Sinead McCartan – DB 7-12) […]

11.3    In relation to the delayed progress on the risk assessment exercise for N/S Bodies as highlighted on the Corporate Services Division QAS, Rosalie Flanagan confirmed that she has met with counterparts in the South and it is proposed that a new governance framework will be prepared for Ministers’ consideration.

Action:  Arthur Scott to incorporate the findings of the N/S risk assessment into the development of a new governance framework.

It seems that DCAL is pushing for tighter control over Waterways Ireland. If DAHG published its minutes [if it does, I can’t find them], we might be able to see what it feels about the matter.





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