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Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 5:15 pm on 16th January 2017.

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Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance 5:15 pm, 16th January 2017

The situation that the Assembly finds itself in today is completely unacceptable. We have the much wider context of the collapse of the Executive and a question mark over whether we will see another Executive in the future. To be much more specific, the process that we are dealing with in relation to this statutory rule today is completely unacceptable. It is the culmination of a flawed process over the past number of months, building on what has been a complete fiasco in terms of the overall non-domestic renewable heat initiative.

We are being asked to make an extremely important decision today, potentially right up against the clock in terms of the dissolution of the Assembly. On reflection, we may have a little bit more time, so it may be wise for us to reflect on how that time could be most appropriately used. As has been stated, this statutory rule has not been subject to anything close to proper scrutiny. While I welcome the fact that a meeting of the Committee was organised for this morning — I thank those involved for doing that — which the Minister and the permanent secretary attended — again, I pass on my thanks to them — we should be under no illusion: that does not pass muster in any scrutiny process or tick any box whatsoever. The Assembly is being asked to fly blind today by potentially approving this, with so many questions still outstanding and not being properly answered. That would be an extremely bad state of affairs even over something fairly non-controversial, but this is perhaps the most controversial and toxic item to face our political institutions for many years, which makes the situation even more concerning.