Public Inquiry on the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme

Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:30 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin 4:30 pm, 24th January 2017

I thank Mr Clarke for that question. I know that Mr Clarke was at the PAC hearing that Robin Swann had the wonderful occasion to chair. I would have paid money to attend that because it was certainly a difficult session for the PAC. Let me tell you, Mr Clarke, the steps that I took to ensure that we have an objective approach from my Department in this regard. The deputy permanent secretary, Mr Colin Sullivan, was asked to lead on the issue and to be the interface on all matters relating to the inquiry, including with the judiciary. I am confident that those in my Department who have been involved thus far have not been involved in the RHI issues.

Someone asked where the civil servants would come from, so let me add that it is very important that the secretarial and administrative staff for the inquiry be independent. The word "independent" is, I believe, in the terms of reference. It is certainly accepted and will be essential that the staff who work to Sir Patrick Coghlin in making sure of the smooth administration of the inquiry are independent of any influence and were not involved in any way in RHI. I will leave it like that.