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

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Paul Frew Paul Frew DUP 3:15 pm, 23rd January 2017

I congratulate the man on his optimism. I wish that I shared it, I really do. I have seen the sea change — the change in stance and even in the demeanour of members of Sinn Féin in the House in the last week — and I do not see this place coming back any time soon, even after an election. So, again, our chances have been shot.

We have a Minister now wanting to bring in regulations that will protect the burden placed on the Northern Ireland block grant, even when he is not in position after the election. That is commendable and is the right thing to do, and I think that he has moved in that way. But to think that the Minister has done something in a knee-jerk way is utter nonsense. The crisis did not start in an episode of a show or on a media outlet or the front page of a paper; it started last year when the scheme was closed. When people realised what was going on, they closed the scheme and then investigations kicked in, first with the Audit Office. That is how long this has been going on — not since late autumn. If people think that this started in late autumn, they have not been reading it at all and do not know what they are talking about. That is what really annoys me at times on incentive schemes. Where is the Finance Minister today?