Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Wednesday, 10 November 2010

DRD Committee

Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy explained his views on the future provision of water services, on 10 November 2010.

The minister had previously made a statement to the Assembly on 13 September in which he said he wanted to see water and sewerage services being delivered by a body clearly within the public service

Northern Ireland Water currently operates as a "GoCo", a government-owned but contractor-operated organisation.

Replying to a question from Regional Development Committee chair Fred Cobain of the UUP, the minister said he thought the Executive would not favour the direct rule proposition to follow a separate self-funding service leading to possible privatisation.

Mr Murphy said his statement of 13 September had been characterised wrongly as a call for the re-nationalisation of water services. He said it had never been de-nationalised.

Mr Cobain was unhappy with the lack of information available to the committee. "We are talking in a vacuum," he said.

The minister said he would bring forward propositions for consideration by the Executive. He said, "this is a situation that cannot be allowed to roll on."

Turning to the issue of bilingual traffic signs, the minister said he had legal advice that there was no need to bring in legislation on this as it could be dealt with as a policy issue.

He added that there was no need to bring it to the Executive before issuing a consultation although any policy would ultimately require Executive consent.

The DUP's Michelle McIlveen accused Conor Murphy of "blatant electioneering".

He replied that, "it should not be contentious. It is not politicising language."

Regional development committee membership

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