RHI scandal: Staff consequences for cock-up still unknown

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA

Almost two months after the News Letter first asked, the Department for the Economy still has not divulged whether any civil servants have faced sanction over the Renewable Heat Incentive fiasco.

On October 27, the paper asked the Department for the Economy – the wing of government which has largely taken over the role of the now-defunct department DETI – if anyone had been dismissed or disciplined over the issue.

At the time, a spokesperson had said: “The RHI scheme is subject to scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee, and there is also an independent investigation into allegations about the operation of the scheme.

“It would not be appropriate to comment at this stage on disciplinary matters.”

Following the re-emergence of the scandal into the spotlight this month, the department was asked the same question again last Friday, and again today.

On this latest occasion, it failed to respond at all.

When asked in the Assembly on Monday how people were able to make more money in subsidies for burning wood pellets than the fuel cost to buy, Arlene Foster said the fact had actually been spelled out “in black and white” in the final business case for the scheme, submitted by DETI to the Department of Finance in 2012.

But no officials – either in DETI or in the Department for Finance – “spotted that that was the case – and therein lies the fundamental problem”.

READ MORE: FOSTER ACKNOWLEDGES ‘SHOCKING ERRORS’ IN SCHEME