Green leader says Foster should give Stormont ‘breathing space’

Steven Agnew said Arlene Foster should 'accept the verdict of the electorate'
Steven Agnew said Arlene Foster should 'accept the verdict of the electorate'

The Green Party has said that Arlene Foster should not return to her post as first minister whilst the public is still awaiting the results of a public inquiry into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

Leader Steven Agnew, newly re-elected to his North Down constituency, has suggested that she should see the results of the election as having been something of a “referendum” on her handling of the whole RHI debacle.

He added that the former first minister should “accept the verdict of the electorate”.

“It’s time for Arlene Foster to create some breathing space so that an Executive can been formed and a budget agreed,” he said.

“While MLAs return to work today, hundreds of people sit on protective notice because there is no budget.

“This is an unacceptable situation involving really dedicated people in the voluntary and community sector doing vital work.

“Arlene Foster should create breathing space for everyone by holding off any return as first minister until after the RHI inquiry has concluded – this was the verdict of the bulk of the people during the election and something that the DUP leader should not ignore.”

On February 1, work began on the public inquiry into the catastrophically overspending boiler subsidy scheme, chaired by retired judge Sir Patrick Coghlin.

Both the DUP and Sinn Fein had previously resisted calls for a full public inquiry to be set up, preferring a more vague investigation into the scheme, but each eventually relented.