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Only a public inquiry can unravel RHI mess

The First Minister, in her interview with Stephen Nolan, made a number of allegations about the role of officials (Civil Servants) in the design, implementation and delivery of the ill fated Renewable Heating Incentive scheme.

She suggested that she was not kept informed of the difficulties that eventually engulfed the scheme. Jonathan Bell, in his interview with Stephen Nolan also broadcast on Thursday night, gave his account of events from his perspective, and it is now only fair and proper that the Civil Servants involved in designing, implementing and delivering the scheme (together with the consultants and delivery partners) are given the right of reply.

Lessons must be learnt from this shameful, shambolic debacle, to ensure that public confidence is restored in government institutions.

It might be uncomfortable, but the best way to get to the truth is a judge-led independent inquiry where witnesses are questioned under oath.

It would be a transparent investigation, unravelling the chronological timeline around all aspects of the scheme, identifying where the accountability rests, and making recommendations about improving and reforming the rigorous scrutiny of managing public finance.

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