Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's O Muilleoir vows 'there'll be no hiding from RHI inquiry'

By Michael McHugh

A public inquiry into Northern Ireland's botched green energy scheme will leave no hiding places, Stormont's finance minister has vowed.

Mairtin O Muilleoir will meet members of political parties today to discuss the investigation, and will make a statement to MLAs tomorrow.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is predicted to cost taxpayers up to £490m over the next 20 years.

It precipitated the collapse of Stormont powersharing.

Mr O Muilleoir said: "This inquiry will be impartial and objective and it will be tasked with getting to the truth of this scandal.

"These meetings will provide an opportunity to discuss the terms of reference and hear the views of other parties.

"My objective remains to deliver a no-hiding-place inquiry that serves the public interest."

The scheme was designed to encourage businesses to use green energy instead of fossil fuels but ended up paying out around £1.60 for every £1 spent on wood pellets to fuel biomass boilers.

There has been a series of allegations of empty sheds being heated in a "cash for ash" scandal.

In recent weeks Sinn Fein had insisted a public inquiry would have been too time consuming.

The DUP welcomed the party's U-turn and the Assembly recently voted in favour of a public inquiry.

However, DUP leader Arlene Foster had only publicly agreed to such an inquiry the day before Martin McGuinness resigned as deputy First Minister.

Mr O Muilleoir gave a commitment that he or any Sinn Fein minister will release the public inquiry's report in full on receipt.

He called on all parties to sign up to unrestricted, unedited publication.

The minister said the RHI issue went beyond financial matters to questions of governance and probity.

Voters here are set to go to the polls on March 2 after Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigned in protest over the flawed scheme.

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