Belfast Telegraph

Former Economy Minister turned down Moy Park Christmas turkey offer

Simon Hamilton
Simon Hamilton

By Michael Sheils McNamee

Former Economy Minister Simon Hamilton turned down an offer of a free Christmas turkey from Moy Park, new evidence submitted to the RHI Inquiry has revealed.

DUP MLA Mr Hamilton and Sinn Fein MLA and former Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir - both of who held their positions when the failings of the RHI scheme came to light - are due to appear before the RHI Inquiry on Tuesday.

Written evidence from both has been published on the RHI Inquiry website on Monday night.

Mr Hamilton became Economy Minister in May 2016, and during his tenure he assumed responsibility for putting cost controls on the scheme.

Moy Park, one of Northern Ireland's largest businesses, has had their role in the RHI scandal scrutinised as part of oral evidence given to the Inquiry.

Appearing last month, former DUP adviser Andrew Crawford admitted removing a reference to the poultry industry from draft paper seeking to close the scheme in February 2016.

The RHI Inquiry also heard last month that the chief executive of Moy Park had sent an email to officials congratulating them on successfully lobbying to have the botched green energy scheme extended.

In his written evidence, Mr Hamilton was asked about meeting with Moy Park in January 2017.

Mr Hamilton says he did not meet with the poultry giant, but that company executive Mike Mullan attempted to contact him at his constituency office.

"While not unprecedented for people to contact my constituency office on Departmental business, I thought, on this occasion and in the circumstances, this was inappropriate, especially given their express intention was to discuss RHI," says Mr Hamilton in his evidence.

Mr Hamilton says there was contact from Moy Park before Christmas in December 2016, at which time he was offered a turkey - which he declined as he felt it would be "inappropriate".

Sinn Fein's Mr O Muilleoir is the first and only member of his party to appear before the Inquiry.

He gave approvals to plans put forward for cutting the cost of the scheme in January 2017.

In his evidence, Mr O Muilleoir critiques a breakdown in relations between his party and the DUP.

The RHI Inquiry is set to hear evidence from 9.45am tomorrow, with this being the final week of oral evidence.

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