Belfast Telegraph

Nolan: Only two politicians have been to Fantasy Island home

Steven Nolan at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards 2019 at Titanic Belfast. Pic Colm O'Reilly 06-06-2019
Steven Nolan at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards 2019 at Titanic Belfast. Pic Colm O'Reilly 06-06-2019
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

BBC presenter Stephen Nolan has revealed that the only politicians who he has had at his home during his career is former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and the former DUP minister Jonathan Bell.

Nolan revealed McGuinness, who died in March 2017, had been to his home while speaking with political journalist Sam McBride on his Radio Ulster show on Friday morning.

They were discussing McBride's upcoming book on the RHI scandal, which saw McGuinness resign as deputy first minister and collapse the Stormont executive.

The radio presenter was speaking about when DUP minister Jonathan Bell rang him asking to come to his home to speak about the RHI scandal.

“I am at this business over 20 years now,” he said.

“Stories and moments come and go and my memory is not great, but I will never forget getting this call from Jonathan Bell [saying] ‘I want to come down to your house.’ The only other politician that has been in my house is Martin McGuinness. There is a story in that in itself.

“I am saying ‘absolutely not, I am meeting you in public’ [To Mr Bell]. And him saying ‘the story I am about to give you here will be the biggest story you will ever had’.”

Nolan did not expand on why McGuinness was at his home.

Mr Bell was suspended by the DUP in December 2016 after giving an interview to Nolan about the scheme. He made explosive claims that DUP special advisers were reluctant to introduce cost control tariffs to the scheme.

The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme was an green energy initiative set up to encourage businesses in Northern Ireland to switch from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.

The so-called “cash-for-ash” scandal exposed the taxpayer to a huge overspend by paying out more in subsidies than the fuel was worth.

As a result of the scandal a public inquiry, chaired by Sir Patrick Coghlin, was launched to investigate. The report is expected to be published later this year.

The scandal led to McGuinness resigning as deputy first minister and the power-sharing executive has not been restored since.

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