Claire Simpson. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, February 10, 2018
A WHISTLEBLOWER who highlighted flaws in the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme has claimed the DUP made “me out as a liar.”
Businesswoman Janette O’Hagan told the inquiry into the botched scheme that it was a “complete disgrace” for the party to publish on Twitter an email she had sent to then enterprise minister Arlene Foster in 2013.
Her evidence came as differences remained between the DUP and Sinn Féin in talks to restore power-sharing – more than a year after the institutions collapsed amid the RHI scandal.
Mrs. O’Hagan runs a firm inMCo Antrim called Okotech, which developed a system allowing businesses to wirelessly control heating in different rooms.
She communicated her serious concerns after it became clear that some firms were not interested in heat efficiency because RHI was incentiviZing claimants to use more heat than they needed.
During a meeting with officials from the Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Investment (Deti), she told them she was “surprised people weren’t putting radiators on the outside of buildings.”
The 2013 correspondence to Mrs. Foster was published in December 2016 at a time when revelations about the scheme, which could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds, were emerging.
DUP MP Nigel Dodds claimed at the time the email “nails the myth that Mrs. Foster as Deti minister failed to follow up on ‘whistleblower’ concerns”.
However, Mrs. O’Hagan said she had sent Mrs. Foster three emails, the third of which made clear her fears about the scheme.
She said after the DUP published one of the emails she sent a “very angry” response to the department, saying “you did not ask nor get my consent.”
Mrs. O’Hagan said she was offended by some of the DUP and department’s comments about her and demanded their statements be
retracted. “I have not and will never lie about what has happened,” she added.
The email published by the DUP blacked out Mrs. O’Hagan’s name and email address, but she claimed the redaction had been “very poor,” and she had received unwanted contact because of it.
“It has put me in a very difficult position,” she said.
At the time the email was published, the renamed Department for the Economy was headed by DUP minister Simon Hamilton.