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RHI scandal just gets worse, says Ford

February 18, 2017 2:21 PM

David FordAlliance South Antrim candidate David Ford has said the RHI scandal is getting worse, as each day seems to cast new light on the potential for corruption and fraudulent claims.
Mr Ford was speaking after the BBC reported it had a list of the claimants, which revealed a small number of companies registered as dormant have been claiming tens of thousands of pounds.

He said there needed to be an urgent investigation.

"What is potentially fraudulent is some of those claims seem to be for amounts beyond the capacity of the boilers in place. While we are now starting to see just how disastrous this scheme actually is, we could have been in a much better place if DUP Ministers had stepped up and carried out their role in an open, transparent and accountable way.

"As the Minister responsible for introducing the scheme, Arlene Foster should have protected public funds by putting in place cost controls, as happened elsewhere. She was clearly asleep at the wheel and is now unwilling to accept any responsibility.

"Last December, had she agreed to temporarily step aside without prejudice, we would have had an investigation well underway. Her agreement to any inquiry only came when her joint first Minister effectively suspended her from her job.

"The current Economy Minister Simon Hamilton should have released details of claimants last December. There is no excuse for him waiting until court injunctions were sought and claiming he wants the information published.

"The public will not be fooled by those responsible for the scheme suddenly saying they want openness, particularly when the election material the DUP has published attempts to mislead by claiming that regulations passed by the Assembly 'seek to eliminate future cost to the Northern Ireland budget.' This statement ignores the 20-year contracts entered into with applicants to the scheme.

"We are fortunate to have a number of journalists who have managed to uncover details of just how bad a deal this scheme is for taxpayers. It is a pity the politicians responsible had not been as diligent."