Sinn Fein’s proposed terms for RHI investigation ‘political fudge’, says Long

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said Sinn Fein’s proposed terms of reference for an investigation into the RHI scandal are “political fudge” which will not inspire public confidence.

Mrs Long was speaking after the party announced a plan, which include seeing the Attorney General appointing a judge to head up a panel to investigate the situation, along with emergency legislation to grant the investigation powers to compel witnesses and documentation.

“The question must be asked as to why Sinn Fein and the DUP are unwilling to call for a full public inquiry under the Inquiries Act. If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear. Any attempt to cobble together a bespoke investigation will raise public concerns there will also be a bespoke outcome.

“There are a number of flaws with Sinn Fein’s ideas – these proposals would require emergency legislation, which will add another 10 days on to the process. In addition, the Attorney General does not have the power to appoint a judge to head up any investigation and is appointed by the First Minister and deputy First Minister, so is not sufficiently independent. There is also no indication witnesses will be under oath.

“It is also a nonsense to say an inquiry would take longer than an investigation. The evidence will be what the evidence will be, and an investigation would take the same length of time. The only reason an investigation would be quicker is if it was less thorough.

“The most important thing in all of this is to get the truth for the people of Northern Ireland. The only way we can be guaranteed that is to have a fully independent, judge-led public inquiry, which has to power to compel witnesses and papers, and has evidence given under oath. It is time it happened and people got back to the job of governing, which is what they were elected to do.”

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