Long says it is perfectly natural for public suspicions after more RHI revelations

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said it is perfectly natural for the public to have suspicions after a DUP special adviser admitted his father-in-law has two boilers under the controversial RHI scheme.

John Robinson admitted his father-in-law applied to the scheme in August 2015, three months before he was married, subsequently running two green energy boilers. Mr Robinson, who previously stated no family members benefitted from RHI, is currently special adviser to Economy Minister Simon Hamilton.

“This is yet more of a drip feed of information that appears to have become a regular feature of the RHI scandal,” said Mrs Long.

“A number of people have been economical with the truth at the outset, meaning it is not until others come back with more detailed questions that the truth is finally revealed. That approach is incredibly corrosive on public confidence and it is understandable why people have suspicions following it.

“In this case, given his current role in advising Simon Hamilton as he tries to develop a solution to the RHI scheme, there is a clear conflict of interest. The full facts should have been disclosed at the earliest opportunity. Special advisers are civil servants, paid out of the public purse, and accountable via a code of conduct. That requires them to operate entirely transparently in respect of any interest or perceived interest they may have which could affect impartiality.

“I wrote to Malcolm McKibbin, the Head of the Civil Service, prior to Christmas after allegations were made in relation to the behaviour of several DUP special advisers. I asked if an investigation would take place and whether these people would be suspended, given the seriousness of the allegations. I am still awaiting a response. That is something which now needs to be acted on as a matter of urgency.”

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