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There'll be no clawback - our children will have to pay for the RHI shambles for years to come

I have listened to DUP politician after DUP politician talking about "clawing back" a proportion of the nearly half-a-billion pounds committed through the RHI scheme. Anyone with any knowledge of policy-making would be able to point out the following two facts.

Firstly, there is no possible way to determine - and, more importantly, to prove - that anyone signed up for the scheme for fraudulent reasons. The department would have to prove intent and that's next to impossible in this instance.

Secondly, any "clawback" of the funds can only be achieved by going back on commitments already made in good faith to those who have invested in the necessary boilers for the renewable fuel. This will carry a huge risk of legal action.

That risk was the original reason (so far as we know) for extending the scheme before the final closure, and if it was a risk back then, it's a bigger risk now.

So, although everyone is wittering on about "clawing it back", eventually the senior civil servants will have to advise the various ministers that there is no hope of getting anything substantial back.

There's not going to be any "clawback": that half-a-billion, folks, is gone - and it ain't coming back. That's why Arlene's tirade in the Assembly was so ill-judged.

Our kids will be paying for this for many years to come.

RICHARD CRAWFORD

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