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SDLP rules out DUP election pact after latest RHI claims

By David Young, PA

The SDLP has insisted it will not enter a new power-sharing administration led by Arlene Foster as long as "questions remain" around the DUP leader's role in Stormont's botched green energy scandal.

Party leader Colum Eastwood claimed an ongoing "drip feed of revelations" about the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was "poisoning public confidence in politics".

His remarks came after a newspaper report questioned when Mrs Foster was aware of the RHI's lack of cost controls - its fatal weakness.

The State-funded scheme was supposed to offer a proportion of the cost businesses had to pay to run eco-friendly boilers, but the subsidy tariffs were set too high and without a cap, so it ended up paying out significantly more than the price of fuel.

This enabled applicants to 'burn to earn', getting free heat and making a profit as they did so. The scandal has left Stormont facing a £490m overspend.

Yesterday, the News Letter published a consultation document produced by the Stormont department in charge of the RHI in 2013 that raised the potential need for cost-control measures.

The document included a foreword by then-Economy Minister Mrs Foster.

The DUP leader previously insisted she never acted against civil service advice in all her dealings with the RHI.

Mr Eastwood said: "Today's revelation that Arlene Foster was aware of cost control recommendations from civil servants demolishes her claims of ignorance."

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