RHI Scheme Closure

Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 22nd March 2022.

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Photo of Sinéad Ennis Sinéad Ennis Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 22nd March 2022

T1. Ms Ennis asked the Minister for the Economy to state why, for two years, DUP Ministers have refused to bring forward proposals to deliver on the New Decade, New Approach commitment to close the poorly designed, flawed, failed and disastrous renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme that was created and overseen by successive DUP Ministers. (AQT 2131/17-22)

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

The Member will be aware that a consultation took place. We had to allow that consultation to happen. We had to analyse the results of it and to look at a way forward. I tried to get the issue on to the Executive agenda on a number of occasions. There are a number of financial and legal implications. I have been very clear from the start that I want an outcome that is fair to scheme participants and, at the same time, fair to taxpayers in Northern Ireland. I would like to have had that discussion at the Executive but, unfortunately, I could not get it on to the agenda.

Photo of Sinéad Ennis Sinéad Ennis Sinn Féin

Over the course of this mandate, three different DUP Economy Ministers — you are the latest — have been consistent in their refusal to close the RHI scheme, despite a commitment and repeated calls to do so. Can you explain, because I have not heard a rational explanation yet, why no proposals have been taken forward by the DUP Economy Ministers to finally close the scheme?

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

Well, of course, that is simply not the case. I have tried on a number of occasions to take forward proposals to the Executive, as did my predecessors Paul Frew and Diane Dodds. It is wrong to say that we have not brought options to the Executive. The difficulty has been in allowing those options. I am more than happy to have a conversation with Executive colleagues about that but, unfortunately, I have not been in a position to do so.