Belfast Telegraph

RHI scandal: DUP 'working to establish an independent investigation'

The DUP has released a statement saying it is working to establish an independent investigation into the RHI scandal.

MLAs are tonight preparing to debate an SDLP motion on excluding DUP leader Arlene Foster as First Minister for six months at the Assembly on Monday morning.

It has received support from the UUP, Alliance, TUV, the Green Party and People Before Profit.

Sinn Fein has not indicated whether it will back the motion, abstain or vote against it.

Although Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness urged Mrs Foster on Friday to stand aside while an investigated into the RHI scheme is carried out.

McGuinness calls for Foster to stand aside over RHI scandal  

On Sunday evening the DUP released a statement revealing it has been "working to reach agreement with officials and others on the precise details of such an investigation over the last number of days".

"The DUP supports the need for an independent investigation, free from partisan political interference, to establish the facts around the RHI scheme," a DUP spokesman said. 

"We are of the view that the conclusions of any investigation must be made public and that any investigation must be conducted speedily to assist in the process of building public confidence."

A row erupted over the controversial green energy scheme - set up by Mrs Foster - which paid out subsidies well in excess of the costs of buying renewable fuel earlier this year.

Claims of widespread abuse include a farmer allegedly set to pocket around £1 million in the next 20 years for heating an empty shed.

The "cash for ash" scandal reached fever pitch when Mr Bell broke ranks to level a series of explosive claims against his leader Mrs Foster and party advisers.

In an extraordinary TV interview, a tearful Mr Bell said God told him to come clean as he claimed a "highly agitated and angry" Mrs Foster demanded he keep the RHI open for an extra fortnight despite its huge losses.

Mr Bell has been suspended by the DUP without prejudice pending a party investigation over whether he broke the rules of the DUP by speaking to the media without informing their press office.

Jonathan Bell suspended from DUP after comments about Arlene Foster 

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