Belfast Telegraph

Foster's legacy is at stake in RHI scandal

Editor's Viewpoint

First Minister Arlene Foster is correct when she states that a large number of people are confused about the controversial RHI scheme and want clarity. That is the compelling reason for having a thorough, transparent and speedy inquiry into the debacle.

She has also made the bold claim that she, working with ministers and civil servants and with the approval of the Executive, can devise a plan that will mean the projected overspend of £490m over the next 20 years will not happen. She has promised the measures will ensure that there is zero overspend.

It is a promise that will be held up to scrutiny over the coming years, not least by this newspaper, and it could well be a defining measure of her leadership.

But what is equally clear is that instead of engaging in political in-fighting, the public expects the parties at Stormont to demonstrate leadership. Every difficulty should not be turned into a crisis with threats to the very stability of the political institutions.

That, as has been repeated ad nauseam, would only play into the hands of the nihilists who want to foment further turmoil in a province already sick of conflict.

This year will bring fresh challenges to our political leaders and one of the most pressing is Brexit and what deal can be struck with other EU member states. As we report today, there has been a 40% fall in commercial property deals as uncertainty grips the business world.

Whatever anyone's views on the decision to vote to leave the EU, it is now a fact, and Northern Ireland, in spite of voting Remain, must face the consequences like every other part of the UK. In those circumstances we need strong leadership, a vision of what is best for us and what it is possible to achieve. It will serve no purpose to continue to point fingers of blame when a coherent strategy for all the people here is urgently needed. Manufacturing crises at Stormont will only hinder that aim.

The RHI row has led to more disenchantment with politics here and the desire to see new faces not intent on fighting old battles. There is also a need for greater female representation, but many possible candidates may be put off by the obvious misogyny in politics here.

Some of the vile comments directed online at Mrs Foster cross the line into personal and sexist attacks and are to be deplored by anyone with a shred of decency. No one should suffer such abuse.

Death certificate delay for OAP's family unacceptable

Grandfather Vincent McGibbon should have been buried yesterday, but this has been delayed until tomorrow because his grieving family could not get a death certificate. Holidays and an under-pressure GP practice delayed the issuing of the document, adding to the grief of his family, who were left unable to make the necessary funeral arrangements.

It seems incredible that such a delay could occur in the case of an elderly man who died of natural causes. People die during the holidays, as on every other day of the year, and procedures must be in place to take account of that. Red tape should not be allowed to strangle sympathy for the bereaved.

Belfast Telegraph


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