Foster excuses woeful – Farry

Alliance Party Deputy Leader, Stephen Farry, has responded to comments made by Arlene Foster to the BBC on the Renewable Heat Incentive, by commenting that she is presenting herself as an incredibly passive Minister.

Mr Farry reiterated his call for Mrs Foster to publish all relevant documentation related to the scheme and in particular her role around decision-making.

Stephen Farry said: “This was a woeful interview by Arlene Foster. It has done nothing to address the massive public concerns around the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal, and her own credibility as a Minister.

“She comes across as an incredibly passive Minister, doing the bare minimum to get by and waiting for her officials to come to her while taking everything presented at face value. What added value did she bring as a Minister?

Questions persist as to what role she had in the original design of the scheme. Even more crucially, once she knew there was a problem, indeed a potentially massive problem identified by the whistle-blower, why she didn’t persistently pursue her officials for updates. Why did she not understand the implications and therefore risks of what had been provided to her. There is a failure to provide leadership, and even an absence of simple curiousity.

“As a former Minister, alongside my special adviser, I had an ongoing two-way dialogue with our officials, both in terms of developing policy and managing key problems emerging around implementation, and regularly sought updates on a range of matters.

“The failure to provide a clear apology to the whistle-blower is also unacceptable. She was ultimately responsible for how her Department handled that complaint.

“And in terms of an opt in scheme, to declare who has benefitted from the scheme is not going to provide full transparency.

“The ball is in Arlene Foster’s court to re-establish her credentials. She must ensure the swift and comprehensive publication of all relevant papers from within DETI, including all policy submissions sent to her by officials, any comments returned to officials through her Private Office or other channels, any logs in the Department regarding the handling of the concerns of the whistle-blower and any requests for updates from the Minister, and ensure the publication of the full list of recipients.”

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