Long asks if DUP are fools or just treating public as such

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has questioned whether the DUP “are being utterly foolish or merely treating the public as such” after supposed clear the air talks between the Economy Minister and Finance Minister failed to produce any substantive plan around the RHI scandal.

Prior to the meeting, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said the DUP had come up with a plan to limit public losses to “effectively zero”. The DUP had previously claimed they would be presenting plans on December 19, however, that did not happen.

They subsequently claimed they were developing plans over Christmas. However, following today’s meeting, Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir stated he has not seen any plan on how to tackle the crisis, but had been promised some interim proposals next week.

“It appears yesterday’s talk of an Assembly recall to pass emergency legislation around the RHI crisis was completely premature, given that the Finance Minister is now claiming he will only have sight of interim proposals next week,” said Mrs Long.

“This whole episode has descended from a fiasco into an utter farce. We have two parties in Government disputing whether any substantive plan actually exists and, more importantly, in doing so admitting the necessary robust legal checks which would be required to be undertaken on any such plan have not been done.

“Had any plan been developed in conjunction with and assessed by the Departmental Solicitors Office, surely the Finance Minister would have been aware, given they reside within his own Department?

“Having made an utter mess of the original scheme by deviating from the Treasury model, the DUP now appear to want to alter the terms and conditions of the contracts which their scheme designed, leading directly to this debacle, and which were assured by a Ministerial letter from Arlene Foster to potential lenders, without even consulting the Executive’s own legal team or their partners in Government.

“Either the DUP are being utterly foolish or they are treating the public though we are. We deserve to know which it is. The Executive must now publish the plan at whatever stage it is at and set up the independent judge-led inquiry into the entire scheme, which is the only means of restoring any integrity to this mess.”

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