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

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:45 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Sinéad Bradley Sinéad Bradley Social Democratic and Labour Party 2:45 pm, 23rd January 2017

A super-SpAd. We do know that it was not a SpAd in the Department for the Economy. A good idea is a good idea — I have no problem who it comes from — and if a good idea saves money for the public purse, I will be the first to jump up and support it. However, when there appear to be political fingerprints all over this and, like everything else, that information was withheld, forgive me for being cautious, forgive me for having another list of questions that will go unanswered.

There is no trust here. It has been lost through a drip effect from the Executive over a long time, and I ask this question: who knew what and when? We are trying to place the amendment in front of us into context. I noticed that Mr Maskey has absented himself from the Chamber, maybe wisely so. When we reflect on who knew what and when, we know that, in November, the scheme was revisited and sensible proposals were put forward on putting in caps and tariffs that were voted on and rightly so. We also know that, in February, the Minister came to the House and referred to an advertising campaign as part of his explanation of why, suddenly, the scheme had become so popular. The SDLP's response at that time — I stand over it — was very measured and considered, given the information that was in its domain at that time. Others reacted in a different way. With hindsight and a look back over Hansard, it would lead you to wonder why others were less measured. Why did they feel a need to hurry in? What information were they privy to? How did they know the importance of cutting the scheme short of two weeks, not that it was going to make a big difference at that stage. It raises suspicions, and it certainly raises eyebrows. What was Máirtín Ó Muilleoir referring to when he urged the House to vote in a way that did not stack up in a measured way, considering what was in front of us? Mr Maskey may be muddled in his recollection because, perhaps, what he has to do and I do not is to separate what he knew and what he should have known. I have the privilege of standing here speaking on the public record on the basis of what was allowed to be known to the public and to the Opposition parties in the House.