Ó Muilleoir denounces DUP plan for RHI as “sticking plaster”

Posted By: January 05, 2017

BBC NI. Thursday, January 5, 2017

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has denounced the DUP plan for the botched renewable heating scheme as a “sticking plaster.”

He said “the Assembly and institutions will fall” if First Minister Arlene Foster does not step aside while the debacle is investigated.

Mr. Ó Muilleoir said he was disappointed by Thursday’s “clear-the-air” talks with Economy Minister Simon Hamilton.

He said Sinn Féin and the public had been “played for fools.”

“It’s the greatest conflict of interest I’ve seen in my political life that the architect of the RHI scheme would remain in office while the investigation gets underway,” he said.

“We’ve served notice. The only way we can clear the impasse is for Arlene Foster to step aside.”

The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme is approximately £490m over budget.

Mrs. Foster set up the RHI scheme in 2012 when she was minister for enterprise, trade, and investment.

It was an attempt by the Northern Ireland Executive to help to increase consumption of heat from renewable sources.

However, businesses were receiving more in subsidies than they were paying for renewable fuel and the scheme became heavily oversubscribed.

On Wednesday, Mr. Hamilton said he and Mrs.Foster had come up with a plan to limit public losses to “effectively zero.”

But Mr. Ó Muilleoir told the BBC’s Evening Extra program he had still not seen any DUP proposals on how to address the issue.

“There is no plan in my hand tonight, and I’m told that next week I’ll get an interim measure – not good enough,” he said.

Mrs. Foster restated on Wednesday that she would not be standing down over the issue, adding that some calls for her to do so were “misogynistic.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the public and his party could not “continue to countenance” how the DUP conducted business at Stormont, he wrote in The Andersontown News.

Reacting to the Finance Minister’s comments, Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister said the “Stormont Shambles” was “so dire it barely needs comment.”

“Today’s clash, rather than meeting, of the economy and finance ministers, sums it up,” he added.