Belfast Telegraph

Only a judicial inquiry can get to bottom of this

By Jim Allister MLA

In lifting the lid on further DUP complicity in the RHI scandal, Jonathan Bell has performed a necessary public service. Duplicity in politics is never pleasant.

So, it is good to see it exposed.

I readily acknowledge that what Jonathan Bell did would not have been easy, because for years he has been an insider in a party where control freakery is its modus operandi.

“The party comes first,” is not just a cliche to be trotted out by bullying special advisors — Spads — but it is part of its creed.

So, well done Mr Bell for finding the courage to speak out, though he should now brace himself for the attempted character assassination that will follow.

His contention is that there was a proactive and organised campaign headed up by named DUP Spads to keep the ‘Cash for Ash’ scheme open in the autumn of 2015, even though it was adding millions of future debt each day.

This is a staggering allegation which leaves the DUP with much to explain. Spads are ministerial appointees and confidantes who do their master’s bidding. They are not free agents but often the power behind the throne who enforce the party line.

According to Jonathan Bell they overrode his attempts to close the scheme earlier.

Why, if he is right, did the DUP, through its Spads, want to prolong the squander under this scheme?

This now makes who got into the scheme before it closed of central importance. I suspect only the judicial inquiry that Mr Bell called for could get to the full truth.

Finally, the abiding core issue is why Mrs Foster signed off an RHI scheme from which had been removed the cost control measures.

It was this which opened the floodgates and made Mrs Foster the author of this colossal squander made in Stormont.

Belfast Telegraph


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