Belfast Telegraph

If Sinn Fein want election over RHI scandal then bring it on, says DUP's Gregory Campbell

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has said if their partners in government Sinn Fein want an election, then they will face it head on.

The call comes after Sinn Fein's Declan Kearney said the DUP had brought the institutions to an "unprecedented tipping point". He said if First Minister Arlene Foster did not follow his party's advice to step aside for an inquiry then there could be an election.


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In response, DUP MP Gregory Campbell said Mrs Foster was not going anywhere and that the party was fully behind her. He said it would not be "appropriate" for the First Minister to step aside as they had no idea how long any investigation would take.

Mr Campbell said the First Minister was putting the country before her career which was demonstrated by the recent release of documents regarding information sent to the banks on the RHI scheme.

On Sinn Fein's threat an election could be called, Mr Campbell told the BBC: "If people demand certain things they end up getting them.

"If Sinn Fein want that we will face it.

"I don't know that it will resolve anything but we certainly won't be afraid and we won't walk away from it."

However, like his party's partners in government he also said there was a need for a thorough investigation that stopped short of a full-blown public inquiry given they can last "10 to 12 years".

"Nobody in the public wants to see this going on for years. They want this matter resolved quickly.

"They want two things.

"They want to know the truth of what happened at the outset of this scheme when there was an underspend. How when Arlene Foster was in charge there was an underspend and how that turned into an overspend when Arlene Foster left.

"Second they want to know is how the effective cost controls can be brought in place so that we don't run up a projected bill that some people are estimating to be £400m.

"We need to have that thorough inquiry."

The East Londonderry representative gave an assurance that the public would not pay out the projected £400m loss the scheme is expected to rack up in the next 20 years.

He added: "They [the public] are not going to be faced with that amount of money and some of us have been saying that repeatedly. And hopefully in the next few weeks it will be shown that the cost controls can be brought in.

"Whatever of the commitment [the RHI scheme made], if a proposal is brought before the Executive and the Assembly, then those cost controls can come into place which can significantly reduce that potential outlay.

"People want to see that excessive cost that could have been occurred isn't and they want to see the openness and transparency of how we got into this place in the first place."

More: Timeline: How Renewable Heat Incentive unfolded

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