| 13.1°C Belfast

RHI Inquiry Report: The five key findings, including what it says about Arlene Foster

Close

Copies of the published report from the RHI Inquiry outside Stormont

Copies of the published report from the RHI Inquiry outside Stormont

PA

Copies of the published report from the RHI Inquiry outside Stormont

Who is to blame and what does the RHI Inquiry report say about how Stormont was run?

Who is to blame?

A wide range of people have been apportioned blame in the massive 656 page report which runs to over three volumes comprising 276,00 words.

Politicians like Arlene Foster have been cited but civil servants and Special Advisers take a hammering too in Sir Patrick Coghlan's inquiry report which the chairman has urged people to read in its entirety with its 44 recommendations.

Significantly his team question the whole implementation of the cash for ash scheme.

They say the non-domestic RHI scheme was a 'project too far' for the Northern Ireland government.

It goes on:"While motivated by the laudable aim of encouraging the use of renewables rather than fossil fuels in heat production the Northern Ireland stand-alone scheme should never have been adopted. '

What does the report say about Arlene Foster?

The RHI inquiry report criticises Mrs Foster for her handling of the scheme at the outset but its language is measured.

In a summary of its findings the report refers to her as the DETI minister who signed off on the scheme.

The report acknowledges that in 2012 she was told incorrectly by officials that the scheme was projected to provide the highest renewable heat at the best value.

The report says: "While the Minister should not have been presented, with a document which lacked all the necessary cost information she equally not not have signed it in those circumstances".

It also says that the arrangement between Mrs Foster and her Special Adviser concerning the division of responsibility between them for reading, analysing and digesting important documents was ineffective and led to 'false assurance' on the part of her and potentially her officials about the level of scrutiny applied to detailed technical reports from her.

Close

Copies of the published report from Sir Patrick Coghlin's Renewable Heat Incentive public inquiry outside Stormont in Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday March 13, 2020.

Copies of the published report from Sir Patrick Coghlin's Renewable Heat Incentive public inquiry outside Stormont in Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday March 13, 2020.

PA

Copies of the published report from Sir Patrick Coghlin's Renewable Heat Incentive public inquiry outside Stormont in Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday March 13, 2020.

What does the report say about how Stormont was run?

The report is damning about the role of civil servants particularly within DETI. It says basic administration and record keeping which are normally the bedrock of the Civil Service were lacking within DETI on too many occasions.

It says: "Several important meetings and discussions were not properly recorded in writing. The requirements of DETI private office guidelines in respect of the minuting of meetings with the Minister were routinely not followed by officials"

The report says that led to uncertainty about what discussions had actually taken place about the scheme and on what basis decisions were taken.

It adds that the lack of notes led to challenges not only for officials in government but also for the inquiry itself.

What about the whistleblower?

The report which slams DETI for not taking heed of warnings to review the RHI scheme - a missed opportunity it calls it - is highly critical of its treatment of whistleblower Jeanette O'Hagan.

It calls her a 'concerned citizen' who it says between 2013 and 2015 repeatedly contacted DETI to point out the risks of exploitation of the RHI scheme and her concerns that it was being misused.

The report says: "The treatment of this individual and of her attempts at communicating her concerns to the Department fell well below the standard that she was entitled to expect. "

What does the report say about the SPADs?

It isn't happy that there was no effective system in force for Special Advisers to register their interests on a 'sufficiently regular basis.

The summary of the findings also talks of 'unacceptable behaviour' by SPADs including one adviser who shared 'various confidential government documents, not just related to RHI, with family members and other third parties.

The report says: "Another (instance) in relation to RHI involved a number of Special Advisers, along with a Minister, discussing a plan,later put into effect,to disclose emails relating to junior civil servants in order to divert the attention of the media away from their party."

Belfast Telegraph


Related Content