Belfast Telegraph

Arlene Foster rejects Sinn Fein proposal for RHI independent inquiry

First Minister Arlene Foster has rejected Sinn Fein's proposal for how an investigation of the Renewable Heating Incentive should be conducted.

The DUP leader, when asked if she would accept the proposals, responded "no," to the BBC during a school visit.

Earlier Sinn Fein published its plan for an investigation which would have required the First Minister to step aside for four weeks to allow for a preliminary report into the scandal.

A projected £490m could be lost to the Northern Ireland taxpayer over the controversy.


Arlene Foster: Sinn Fein proposals for RHI investigation a basis to move forward but I will not be stepping aside 

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill, chief whip Caral Ni Chuilin and MLA Gerry Kelly presented the plan to the media on Friday morning. They said the inquiry should be fronted by a judicial figure and witnesses should be compelled to attend.

There can be no ministerial influence in the investigation, they said.

And a full-blown public inquiry was not the route to go down as any investigation had to be "time-bound" and "cost effective," they said.

Martin McGuinness, they added, was working at the heart of the issue to break the deadlock, despite his recent health issues.

Some of the sessions of the inquiry, the politicians said, could be held in public but Arlene Foster would have to step aside as First Minister for four weeks until a preliminary report was published with the full report coming in three months.

Under the proposals, the attorney general would appoint a judge who would then go on to appoint an expert panel.

"The public must be satisfied any investigation would be transparent and robust," Michelle O'Neill added.

She stressed that it was vital witnesses were made to attend hearings.

More: Timeline: How Renewable Heat Incentive unfolded 

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