Arlene Foster ‘should have resigned’ over RHI, former NIO adviser claims

Posted By: January 13, 2017

DUP leader Arlene Foster at party headquarters in Belfast earlier this week. 

Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association

Claire Simpson. Belfast Telegraph. Friday, January 13, 2017

A FORMER Northern Ireland Office special adviser has said Arlene Foster should have resigned over the cash-for-ash scandal.

Kevin Meagher, who was an adviser to former Secretary of State Shaun Woodward under the last Labour government, accused the former First Minister of showing “appalling hubris” in her handling of the row.

Writing in the New Statesman, he said her involvement in the disastrous Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme “should be a clear-cut resignation issue.”

The botched scheme is expected to cost taxpayers up to £490 million.

M.r Meagher claimed Mrs.Foster should have shown “contrition” but instead was a “picture of snarling defiance, refusing to step aside while an independent investigation takes place into the scandal.”

He claimed that Sinn Féin “had absolutely no interest in trying to oust her, preferring to keep Northern Ireland’s show on the road if at all possible” but said, “Foster’s unbearable arrogance in recent weeks simply made matters untenable.”

“In essence, (former deputy First Minister Martin) McGuinness fell on Foster’s sword for her in order to bring this issue to a head,” he wrote. “The situation had become a parody of democratic accountability and someone had to insert some dignity back into proceedings.”

He said the DUP should have asked her to stand down when the true extent of the scandal broke before Christmas.

“So now the Democratic Unionist Party will be left explaining this mess to voters on the doorstep,” he wrote.

He added: “The bottom line is this mess was utterly avoidable.”

Mr. Meagher is the author of a book entitled “A United Ireland: Why unification is inevitable and how it will come about.”