Martin McGuinness RHI legal action query

The DUP and Sinn Fein were both saying little yesterday about reports of litigation between the two parties in relation to Martin McGuinness’ alleged role in the RHI scandal.

Mr McGuinness resigned as deputy First Minister in January 2017 in protest at the handling of the RHI scheme. However Mrs Foster told the inquiry on Tuesday that he knew about the contents of a whistle-blower’s note twelve months earlier which revealed widespread abuse of the scheme for financial gain.

The late Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. 'Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

The late Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. 'Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

Senior Sinn Fein worker Aidan McAteer claimed the note “was not shared” with Mr McGuinness “at that time”. However Mrs Foster said that if she did not give it to Mr McGuinness, she spoke to him about it. “My recollection is clear, if I didn’t show it to the dfm (deputy First Minister), I certainly spoke to the DFM about it,” she told the inquiry. Regardless, she said, she shared the note with the head of the civil service and therefore presumed it would at least have been shared with Sinn Fein through that channel.

Sinn Fein’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill then came out on Wednesday to firmly reject her claim.

“I can also tell you that this allegation is subject to an ongoing and separate legal action,” she said.

Any evidence given to the inquiry is legally protected from litigation by offended parties, and libel actions are not legally possible to defend the deceased.

However it is understood that Ms O’Neill was referring to a separate legal action it says was made against another Sinn Fein representative by a DUP counterpart.

The DUP responded that it would be inappropriate to comment outside the inquiry.