No golden handshake for NI Water boss - Minister
The Stormont minister responsible for Northern Ireland Water has said the former chief executive will not receive a "golden handshake" severance package.
Laurence MacKenzie resigned on Wednesday following criticism of the handling of the water crisis.
Minister Conor Murphy said he is seeking legal advice over Mr MacKenzie's minimum entitlement terms.
Mr Murphy estimated the figure to be under £100,000 and said it would be made public.
Mr MacKenzie's departure was announced after an eight-hour meeting of the NI Water board of directors in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Northern Ireland Water has apologised to its customers for its mishandling of the recent water shortage and admitted that the episode was "somewhat embarrassing".
Liam Mulholland, director of customer services, told a Stormont committee on Thursday that the scale of the problem had taken them by surprise and admitted the emergency phonelines, and company website, struggled to cope.
Mr Mulholland told the committee: "One can only apologise for the breakdown that happened there and the suffering that it caused to our customers. And the experience that they went through, I guess, I would say is somewhat embarrassing for us as a company."
Mr Mackenzie did not be attend the Regional Development Committee meeting to answer questions about the water shortage crisis.
Instead, the senior management team appearing will be director of engineering Trevor Haslett, Sara Venning, director of customer services, and Liam Mulholland, head of customer transformation.
Mr Murphy said he was yet to receive full details of the severance package for Mr MacKenzie but said estimates of a payout of £500,000 were massively "over-inflated".
"I haven't been given the actual figure yet but I believe it is lower than £100,000 and it is my understanding that the minimum legal requirement does not include pensions contributions, golden-handshakes or bonuses," the minister said.
"I have a responsibility as this money will be coming from the public purse so it is essential the figures are released.
"I don't think it serves the public that these things are kept confidential, whatever line of payment that comes out of my department will be made public," he added.
Mr Murphy also stressed that he wanted assurances that Mr Mackenzie would remain "available to assist the review" into the crisis.
The review which is being carried out by the Utilities Regulator is due in February, and its terms of reference are expected to be made public at an assembly committee meeting on Thursday.
Mr MacKenzie's resignation had been widely predicted after NI Water was criticised for failing to prepare properly for disruption following December's heavy snowfall.
Half-a-million litres of water had to be sent from Scotland to Belfast as supplies began to run out.
There were complaints from the public about a lack of information from Northern Ireland Water as 40,000 homes and businesses were without supplies at one stage.
Phone lines were jammed and the company website lacked up-to-date information.
After more than 10 days of disruption, just 33 households in Northern Ireland are now without a full water supply.
Confirming his resignation Mr MacKenzie said: "This is entirely my own decision. I believe firmly in the principles of responsibility and accountability. It is for that fundamental reason I have decided to pursue this course of action.
He added: "I readily accept and recognise that there were aspects of the way in which we handled the situation that could have been better.
"In particular our ability to communicate with our customers and let them know the reasons for and the times at which they were going to be taken off supply.
"This failing added to the considerable inconvenience experienced by our customers - for that I apologise sincerely both personally and on behalf of the organisation."
A spokeswoman for Northern Ireland Water said: "Following discussion, the board has accepted his (Mr MacKenzie's) resignation as CEO and agreed terms of settlement consistent with his contractual entitlement.
Mr MacKenzie's resignation becomes effective from Friday and the search for a new chief executive will begin.
The board is recommending that NI Water engineering procurement director Trevor Haslett is appointed as acting chief executive.
Mr MacKenzie became chief executive of Northern Ireland Water in 2009, having previously headed Northern Ireland Electricity.BBC News