Public Inquiry on the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme

Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:00 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin 4:00 pm, 24th January 2017

Go raibh maith agat as an cheist sin. I think it must. I followed the Public Accounts Committee under my colleague Mr Swann, and I read the devastating October hearing when Ofgem appeared. It was clear not only from that Committee meeting but from the many Committee meetings and the great work the PAC has done on this that the spike is the focus. Obviously, there are many issues from its inception to its closure, but it seems to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the spike is where we got hurt. As the Comptroller and Auditor General said, the cost of the spike to our public purse is estimated at £24 million for 20 years. It is correct that the inquiry will, I am sure, devote much of its resources to that period.

I want to mention one other thing, since I have brought up the PAC and Mr Swann is here. That issue is Ofgem. Members will note that Ofgem is also mentioned in the terms of reference. I want to quote Mr Swann when he finished the PAC meeting with Ofgem. He said:

"my impression of Ofgem has plummeted today, and my confidence in it as an organisation has definitely been shaken by what I hear about how you have managed the scheme to date. The answers that I heard today have made me question my belief in your competence as an organisation."

Ofgem will also be scrutinised under the terms of this inquiry.