THE fall-out from the RHI fiasco is to be debated at Belfast City Council during its monthly meeting.
Independent councillor Ruth Patterson has put forward a motion on the disastrous Renewal Heating Incentive Scheme which will be debated tomorrow evening, Tuesday, January 3.
The ‘cash-for-ash’ scandal is set to cost the public purse up to £600 million.
Alderman Patterson motion reads:
“This Council notes the serious public concern amongst our constituents in relation to financial squander around the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme.
“The Council agrees to write to the Secretary of State, as public representatives, highlighting the huge public interest in relation to this matter and, accordingly, requests that he initiates a full public inquiry, pursuant to his discretion contained within Section 1 of the Inquiries Act 2005.
“The Council agrees also to write to the Joint First Minister, Arlene Foster, expressing our belief, as a Council, that she should step aside pending a full public inquiry into this extraordinarily serious matter and the allegations of corruption which have been made by a former Government Minister from her own Party.”
But the DUP’s partners in government, Sinn Fein, are at sixes and sevens over what type of investigation is needed.
Vice president Mary Lou McDonald and south Armagh MLA Conor Murphy have backed an independent public inquiry.
But Sinn Fein ruled this out last Friday.
However, in an article posted on Sinn Fein’s website today, the party’s national chairperson Declan Kearney says:
“….. the DUP leader should step aside from the First Minister’s office to allow a time-framed, comprehensive, independent public inquiry, led by an international jurist.”
This goes against a Sinn Fein amendment to Alderman Patterson’s motion which does not call for an “independent public inquiry”.
It calls for an “indepdendent, time-framed, robust and transparent investigation”.
The Sinn Fein amendment reads in full:
“That this Council recognises the mounting public concern, relating to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme and the serious allegations of incompetence, corruption and abuse.
“Calls on the First Minister to stand aside in order to facilitate an independent, time-framed, robust and transparent investigation and until a preliminary report is presented.
“This investigation should be undertaken by an independent judicial figure from outside this jurisdiction and be appointed by the Attorney General.
“On its completion the report of the investigation should be made public and should not require the agreement of the First and Deputy First Ministers or the Attorney General.
“A preliminary report will be published within 4 weeks of its establishment.
“The full report and its outcomes will be made public within 3 months from that date.”