Public Inquiry on the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme

Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:45 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin 3:45 pm, 24th January 2017

Thank you, Mr Smith. I know that there is an election coming and it is, at times, difficult to appease the Ulster Unionists. I have a recent memory of the Ulster Unionist Party wanting a public inquiry into the RHI scandal: you now have one. Do not prejudge the actions of Sir Patrick Coghlin. He will act in an impartial and objective manner. He will be scrupulous in getting to the truth and unflinching in making sure that he is not deflected from that purpose.

It is my view that the best way forward is for the Minister to butt out. The chair has said that he does not think it appropriate to deliver an interim report. We should respect that. If Mr Smith believes that the Minister should start interfering with the impartial work of Sir Patrick Coghlin on day one — actually, day one is 1 February, so we are talking about minute one — he has another think coming. I trust Sir Patrick Coghlin and have confidence in him to deliver to any future Assembly a report with recommendations and observations that will satisfy the public thirst and hunger to get to the bottom — the truth — of the RHI scandal. I suggest to the Member that he should have the same confidence in Sir Patrick Coghlin.