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Northern Ireland public deserves to know truth of RHI

Editor's Viewpoint

The continuing fall-out from the Renewable Heat Initiative Scheme is complex and fast-moving.

However, if it is not handled properly by the politicians on all sides, it could lead to yet another full-scale crisis threatening the future of the Stormont Assembly.

The DUP has said it supports the need for an independent investigation, and many people could support such a probe led by a legal expert from a different jurisdiction.

This, at best, could be swift and forensic, and without incurring vast costs.

However, Sinn Fein has warned categorically of "grave consequences" if the DUP brings forward a statement to today's Stormont debate without their support.

Sinn Fein will also put forward a motion asking for the First Minister, Arlene Foster, to stand down, in order to facilitate an independent inquiry.

Given that Mrs Foster has clearly indicated that she has no intention of doing so, there could be even more trouble ahead.

Meanwhile, there appears to be a very different version of events concerning the revelations of a "whistleblower", cited by the former DUP Minister Jonathan Bell. The DUP is known for its stern discipline, and therefore it is no surprise that Mr Bell has already been suspended by the party.

Given this context of a confusing, complex and disturbing sequence of events, plus the massive expense of the RHI scheme to the public purse, there is an urgent need for an independent fact-finding inquiry which overrides the current strained relationships between the parties.

What is certain, however, is the reality that everyone in this huge political and economic drama cannot be right.

There is one true narrative, and this must be unearthed by a paper and email trail, and supported by hard documentation.

The public has a right to know the truth, so that those people in authority can learn from the mistakes, and take the right steps forward in the interests of all the people.

It is also important that we are told of the measures that will be taken to limit the damage politically, and also to ensure that the money that is urgently needed for our hospitals, schools and other shared institutions does not continually go up in smoke,.

There is one thing on which all sides can agree. This is one of the most disastrous and ill-conceived schemes in the history of Northern Ireland.

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