Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Tuesday, 16 October 2012 12:33 UK

Northern Ireland Assembly

The Health Minister called for fundamental changes at the NI Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) "as a matter of absolute urgency", on 16 October 2012.

Edwin Poots was briefing the Assembly on the outcome of three reviews dealing with allegations of irregularities at NIFRS.

The investigations followed whistle-blowing claims which centred on fraud, unapproved bonuses and the failure to deal with staff grievances.

Mr Poots said the reviews were commissioned and an interim chief executive was appointed because "it was clear that robust intervention was needed to address significant issues at NIFRS HQ which were threatening to drag the whole organisation into disrepute".

"I believe the time for investigating and reporting is over. The time for moving forward has come," he said.

A number of members, including the UUP's Roy Beggs and Sinn Fein's Oliver McMullan, were concerned that no disciplinary action was being taken as a result of the irregularities identified in the reviews.

The minister rejected Mr McMullan's call for a public inquiry, but said he believed there would be "a general message that a slap on the wrist approach is not enough".

Jim Allister of the TUV referred to previous reports on NIFRS which he said had resulted in "matters being brushed under the carpet".

The minister replied that "the proof of the pudding will be in the eating", and hoped that in 10 years time they would not be referring to NIFRS as "still being a shambles".


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