Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein MP slams SDLP leader over Arlene Foster RHI comments

Sinn Fein's Foyle MP Elisha McCallion has hit out at SDLP leader Colum Eastwood over his reaction to comments made by Arlene Foster in relation to Martin McGuinness and his knowledge of the RHI scandal.

It comes after evidence was given to the RHI Inquiry this week by DUP leader Mrs Foster, who claimed the late Martin McGuinness was aware of claims by a whilstleblower that the RHI scheme was being abused.

Mrs Foster claimed the former Deputy First Minister was aware of the claims prior to the scheme's closure being delayed for two weeks in February 2016 - a move estimated to have added an additional £91m to the cost of the botched green energy scheme over 20 years.

She said Mr McGuinness had become aware of the claim after she shared that information with him.

Following the allegation, SDLP leader and Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood wrote to the head of the civil service in Northern Ireland David Sterling to ask him to confirm if Mr McGuinness had known of the claims, saying clarity was needed on the matter.

In a statement on Friday, Mrs McCallion said it was "extremely disappointing" that the SDLP leader "appears to be questioning the integrity of Martin McGuinness, a man who set the benchmark in good governance and who is no longer here to defend himself".

“The RHI Inquiry was established by Sinn Féin Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir. The entire issue was brought to a head by Martin McGuinness who resigned in protest at the DUP’s behaviour in government," she said.

“Arlene Foster’s claim will be examined by the Inquiry and Sinn Fein are entirely confident that he will be completely vindicated."

Mrs McCallion added Mr Eastwood was free to seek whatever documentation he wanted, but added files already published as part of the Inquiry vindicated Mr McGuinness.

Reacting to the comments, Mr Eastwood said the Sinn Fein MP had misinterpreted his comments.

"Elisha really needs to stop looking for offence where none is intended," he wrote on Twitter.

"We're in a political crisis, we need to de-dramatise this stuff."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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