RHI scandal: Sinn Fein wants four-month ‘independent inquiry’

Sinn Fein wants Attorney General John Larkin to appoint a judicial figure to lead an inquiry into the RHI scandal
Sinn Fein wants Attorney General John Larkin to appoint a judicial figure to lead an inquiry into the RHI scandal

Sinn Fein has published the text of a motion which it will table at Stormont on Monday and which gives the most detail yet on the party’s likely position on what form the RHI inquiry will take.

Sinn Fein, which has been under pressure from some supporters over what they see as its restrained approach to the crisis engulfing the DUP, said that it wanted to see an independent inquiry led by “an independent judicial figure from outside this jurisdiction and appointed by the attorney general”.

However, the party stopped short of calling for a full public inquiry overseen by a judge. That means that the inquiry envisaged by Sinn Fein is likely to sit behind closed doors and may not have powers to compel witnesses and documentation.

The Sinn Fein motion says: “This investigation must establish how the RHI was developed in strategic policy and legislative terms, including its primary purpose and objectives; how the scheme’s operational roll-out was agreed, administered and implemented in order to match these objectives; and thereafter where overall accountability and compliance for the RHI scheme rested in both policy and financial accountability terms – and were these achieved in the view of the independent investigator.”

It also said the probe should investigate “the motives and actions of ministers, special advisors, civil servants, and any others involved” and to establish whether there was a conflict of interest for any of those involved in setting up or running the scheme.

The four-month probe would also investigate all applications and determine in each case whether there is a legal basis to recover money or refer individuals to the police for criminal investigation.