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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

First Minister reposts to RHI report

The leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, has responded following the publication of the RHI report.

Mrs Foster has been the minister of DETI at the time the scheme was introduced.

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The report said despite being given inaccurate information, that she should have read the scheme herself before presenting it to the executive.

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The report also also critical of the arrangement between Mrs Foster and her SPAD at the time, Andrew Crawford.

But following the investigation, the report said that ‘Corrupt or malicious activity’ did not cause the failures of the Northern Ireland’s energy scheme.

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In a statement Mrs Foster said:

“I welcome the publication of the Renewable Heat Incentive Inquiry report. The report follows a lengthy inquiry into every aspect of the Scheme and I trust it will be foundational as we seek to rebuild public trust.

“For my part I am determined to learn from my mistakes and to work to ensure that the mistakes and systematic failures of the past are not repeated.

“In my conference speech to the Democratic Unionist Party in 2018 I indicated that the best of intentions do not make us immune from mistakes and misjudgements. Today I again apologise for my failings in the implementation of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

“As I look back over the events of the last number of years and with the benefit of that hindsight there are many things that could and should have been handled in a very different way. However the unalterable truth is that none of us can change or relive that which has already happened but we can take the experience and use it to shape the road ahead.

“At the Inquiry, I fulfilled my oath to answer truthfully; even when this meant admitting embarrassing matters such as not reading the technical legislation and instead only reading the explanatory notes. I did so because of my commitment to get to the truth, to learn every lesson and ensure I and others do better in the future.

“Whilst I, my party and others have much to reflect upon, I am pleased that there has been no finding to support those who alleged improper motivation or indeed in some cases that I, or the party, was motivated by some financial considerations in the actions or omissions that took place. Amongst the legitimate criticisms, some chose to use the crisis to deliberately mislead.

The first minister concluded:

“This report will require careful consideration so that collectively we can ensure there is no repeat of the many systemic failings across Government.

“I intend to study the report in greater detail and to make a fuller statement when the Assembly discusses the issue on Monday.

“I wish to place on record my thanks to Sir Patrick Coughlin and his team for their detailed work and to my legal team for all their work on my behalf over the last three years.”

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