Northern Ireland

Timeline of events surrounding Red Sky and housing body

BBC News Online looks at the timeline of events surrounding maintenance firm Red Sky and the controversy following Housing Minister Nelson McCausland's intervention to request that its contract with the Housing Executive is reinstated.

October 2010

BBC Northern Ireland investigation into maintenance firm Red Sky broadcast.

It highlights that Housing Executive staff began to complain in 2007, about work being carried out in west Belfast by Red Sky to a poor standard, not being done at all, and in some cases being billed for and paid by the Housing Executive twice.

As a result, the Housing Executive launches an investigation into the work of Red Sky in west Belfast.

Red Sky admits there have been some problems with one of its contracts in west Belfast but emphatically denies carrying out any substandard work or that it has been involved in any financial irregularities.

Social Development Minister Alex Attwood announces details of a major investigation into the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE).

The minister said it will look at procedures on issues including audit management and fraud.

January 2011

NI Housing Executive investigation into the activities of Red Sky concludes.

April 2011

Housing Executive cancels its £8m contract with Red Sky and gives it three months notice.

It said its inquiry highlighted what it called "significant concerns about the company's performance, including overcharging", but it refused to give further details.

Red Sky said it was "absolutely clear that the allegations are without substance and are prepared to demonstrate this if necessary in a court of law".

The firm said the jobs of its 400 employees in Belfast had been put at risk.

19 April 2011

Red Sky goes into voluntary administration.

22 April 2011

Red Sky admits it charged the Housing Executive for work on two apartment blocks that no longer exist.

The company said it was a minor error and called for an independent assessor to examine the calibre of its work.

May 2011

Nelson McCausland replaces Alex Attwood as Social Development minister following NI Assembly elections.

Mr McCausland and First Minister Peter Robinson meet with management at Red Sky.

June 2011

Mr McCausland asks the Housing Executive not to suspend its contract with contractors Red Sky.

1 July 2011

Mr McCausland asks the Housing Executive to extend its contract with Red Sky until a new system for awarding contracts was introduced.

Mr McCausland announces that he has ordered a "forensic investigation" to be carried out into all maintenance contracts at the Housing Executive.

He said he had evidence of "over charging and double charging in more than one district, and by more than one contractor".

4 July 2011

The chairman of the Social Development Committee Alex Maskey calls on the minister to "come clean" about why he intervened in the dispute between the Housing Executive and Red Sky.

5 July 2011

Housing Executive meets to discuss the minister's request to overturn its decision to end its contract with Red Sky.

It described Mr McCausland's intervention on the issue as "incomprehensible".

Former DSD minister Alex Attwood asks for the issue to be discussed by the Stormont executive on Thursday.

He said the decision he took to terminate the Red Sky contract was after "a fully independent and forensic investigation".

6 July 2011

The Housing Executive says it is sticking to the 14 July date for ending its contract with Red Sky.

TUV leader Jim Allister calls on Mr McCausland to explain any history of involvement between his party and the owner of Red Sky.

In response, Mr McCausland said: "I can state categorically that I have no connection with any individual with that company or any other contractors."

"To the best of my knowledge, I have no knowledge of people being at dinner parties, but even if people are at somebody's house for a dinner. What do we read into that?"

7 July 2011

Nelson McCausland confirms Red Sky's contract with the Housing Executive will end on 14 July as planned.

He says the administrator at Red Sky could not give an assurance that he would be able to extend the contract in line with the minister's wishes.

Earlier, Red Sky workers protested outside Stormont ahead of a meeting of the Northern Ireland Executive.

14 July 2011

Housing Executive's three month notice to Red Sky expires.