McGuinness: First Minister should stand aside while RHI probe takes place

Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster

Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster

Martin McGuinness says he has told first minister Arlene Foster that she should “step aside” while a “fully independent investigation” into the RHI scandal takes place.

The Sinn Fein deputy first minister said he had spoken by phone to Mrs Foster this afternoon to relate his concerns over fresh allegations made by former enterprise minister Jonathan Bell last night.

Mr McGuinness said: “I outlined my serious concern that the credibility of the political institutions is being undermined by the serious and ongoing allegations surrounding the design, operation, abuse and ending of the Renewable Heating Incentive Scheme.

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“This includes allegations from a former DUP minster that there was corruption.

“This scheme has directly impacted on the public purse. Taxpayers’ money wasted in this scheme, needs to be retrieved.

“It is my belief the only way to establish the truth, and rebuild the reputation of the institutions, is to urgently establish a fully independent investigation into this matter.”

Mr McGuinness claimed that if he was in Mrs Foster’s position, he would stand aside while an investigation took place.

“In the public interest, she should stand aside from the role as First Minister while that investigation is under way and at least until an initial assessment had been concluded into the veracity of all the allegations.

“That is what I would do if I was in this situation. I asked the First Minister to take the time and consider this suggestion carefully.”