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SDLP and UUP trying to distract from their support for RHI - Murphy

29 January, 2017 - by Conor Murphy

Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy has said the leaders of the SDLP and UUP are trying to distract the public's attention from their support for the RHI scheme. 

Mr Murphy said; 

"The leaders of both the UUP and the SDLP are desperately trying to divert attention away from their own support for the flawed RHI scheme. 

"The reality is that all sensible politicians are in favour of increased use of renewable energy sources and should do all they can to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. As a responsible Minister this is exactly what Michelle O Neill did. There was no indication of any problem with the renewable energy scheme at that time and neither the SDLP or the UUP raised any concerns about it.

"The real scandal is the fundamental flaws in the construction of this scheme, it's application and the unexplained delays by the DUP in closing the scheme down when these flaws became obvious.

"The public inquiry must ask why the DUP kept this scheme open from July to November 2015 despite knowing that it was open to widespread abuse. This was the period of the disastrous ‘spike’ in applications when many in the DUP knew there was the potential for very lucrative abuse.

"But the public also need to know - and the public inquiry should ask - why the SDLP and the UUP resisted and opposed the decision to close the scheme in February 2016. The SDLP and UUP supported this flawed scheme and voted in the Assembly to keep it open. This may have been a simple failure of political judgement but we are all entitled to ask if there some other explanation for supporting a scheme that could potentially waste £500 million of public money.

"Why did the SDLP and the UUP adopt this position and who was lobbying them to do so? The SDLP and UUP leaders should not wait to be asked this question during the public enquiry. There should be full transparency around why they voted to keep the RHI scheme open. They should tell us now why they did so. And given their penchant for calling on others to step aside pending full investigation of the facts perhaps Mike Nesbitt and Colum Eastwood should follow their own advice given the serious question mark over their inexplicable support for the RHI scheme when the flaws and potential abuse became known."

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