Belfast Telegraph

Sammy Wilson claims McGuinness move is all about putting Troubles soldiers in the dock for Sinn Fein

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has accused Sinn Fein of being more concerned by legacy issues than the RHI scandal and "putting soldiers and policemen in the dock" over the party's motivations in collapsing the devolved institutions.

The senior DUP politician was speaking on the BBC in the wake of Martin McGuinness' resignation over the First Minister's refusal to step aside for any investigation into the Renewable Heating Incentive scandal.

The Sinn Fein MLA said his party would not re-nominate to the position effectively forcing an election barely a year into the new mandate.

Mr Wilson told Good Morning Ulster: "We want to to get to the bottom of RHI. The last thing we want to do is to stop the workings of the Assembly, which is what they have done.

"This all started because of Sinn Fein's reaction to RHI, which they were involved in as it was approved by the Executive therefore any inquiry would have to look at whatever role they played in it.

"Sinn Fein use this rhetoric [of arrogance, failure to show parity of esteem and respect to the other tradition] to disguise what this is really all about.

"It is no longer about RHI, if it were they would have taken up the very reasonable offer made by Arlene Foster. She has been far from arrogant on this.

"It is convention ministers don't attend the Public Accounts Committee, Arlene Foster has offered to do that.

"She said she will subject herself to totally independent public inquiry and she has brought forward a remedy to deal with the RHI projected overspend.

"What this is about - and listen to what Martin McGuinness said yesterday - this is about Sinn Fein being miffed that the British government and ourselves have refused to play their game in putting soldiers in the dock and policemen in the dock for what happened in the last 40 years.

"That was Martin McGuinness' main complaint yesterday.

"That he wanted money for legacy inquiries, he wanted soldiers and policemen to be subject to trial and for state papers to be made available."

He added: "This is all about getting soldiers and policemen in the dock and we will not roll over for Sinn Fein for this.

"We have said we are happy for investigations into RHI."

However, Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill said her party was motivated by bringing about good governance.

She responded: "All Sammy can do is revert to type and talk about the past.

"We are not talking about the past we are talking about the issue of good governance and delivering for the public.

"We are talking about having a brilliant health service and a brilliant education system, we are talking about a scandals which is the latest in a long line of issues.

"Sammy is talking about solutions being brought forward. We are eight months into this mandate and DUP have not brought forward solution to stop money draining out of the system.

"Our minister has continued and and will continue to push Simon Hamilton to put forward a plan to stop the money draining out.

"What we have clearly done is that we have held the DUP to account.

"Martin McGuinness was only one who could put Arlene Foster out of office and he did that decisively yesterday.

"It was right thing to do and it was in the public interest to do it.

"If we don't have public confidence in institutions, If we don't have public confidence in terms of investigation that happens then it is not worth the paper it is written on.

"We are very much responding to what the public are asking for."

Asked if Sinn Fein wanted a complete renegotiation of the devolved institutions, the health minister responded: "We do not want a return to the status quo.

"We can not come back to institutions that we are looking with partners in government that are not interested in equality making sure look after all sections of our society.

"I want to see institutions that deliver, institutions that at the base of them is equality.

"We can't have ministers in government that are only interested in petty bigoted decisions."

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