Eamonn McCann: DUP and SF positions now ‘irreconcilable’ and elections are likely

Foyle People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann. DER1216GS005
Foyle People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann. DER1216GS005

The differences between Sinn Féin and the DUP over the RHI scandal are “absolutely irreconcilable” and elections are now the most likely outcome.

That is the verdict of People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann, who said that although Sinn Féin and the DUP have shown a “remarkable capacity to sort out problems over the years”, the most likely outcome of the current RHI crisis is now an election.

“Something’s got to give,” he said. “Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (Sinn Féin MLA and Finance Minister) said last night, in forceful terms, that Arlene Foster must step aside - she must go from her position before there can be any movement forward. DUP spokespersons are saying that she is going nowhere, not an inch. Those two positions are absolutely irreconcilable. Somebody has got to give way and there’s no sign yet of that happening.”

Mr McCann, speaking during a BBC radio interview this morning, said elections are the most likely outcome.

“We think an election is very likely,” the Foyle MLA said. “Obviously we cannot say for definite that an election is going to happen. Sinn Féin and the DUP have shown a remarkable capacity to sort out problems over the years that many people thought were intractable so as to maintain themselves in office and that could well happen again. It has to be said that if these two parties stick to the positions that they have publicly adopted then no solution is possible.”

He also reiterated his call for Arlene Foster to stand down, saying: “I think Arlene Foster should resign and not just step aside. All this happened on her watch. She can’t avoid the problem. She was the woman in charge of the Department when all these things took place. It may well be that she simply took her eye off the ball, that she wasn’t sufficiently engaged, that she misunderstood it. It is not necessary that she was doing something actively wrong. She wasn’t an anonymous civil servant. She was the woman publicly responsible when all these things happened and she is an elected representative so people are quite right to put demands on her. She can’t escape this one.”

The People Before Profit MLA continued: “It is impossible to understand this without taking into account everything that led up to it. This did not come out of the blue. It comes at the end of Red Sky, of NAMA, of the whole Dee Stitt and the Social Investment Fund problem, a whole series of things.

“I think public anger and resentment has built and the reason why there’s such an eruption of anger and resentment at the renewable heating incentive revelations is not because of that on its own, it’s because people are simply fed up. This was a step too far. I think people’s resentment is directed, and I believe rightly directed, against the assembly and the structures generally and not just the DUP for this scheme. I think all these things have got to be examined. There has been a culture of misbehaviour and improper behaviour within the DUP over a number of years and that needs to be cleansed.”