Simon Coveney claim about when RHI report will appear was false

A claim by Ireland’s foreign minister that the RHI Inquiry report will be published next month is wrong, said a spokesman for the inquiry itself.

Simon Coveney, the Republic’s tanaiste (effectively the deputy leader of the country) made the claim in a committee of the Irish Parliament this week.

Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney

The RHI Inquiry, which began in November 2017 and did not finish until mid-December 2018, has pored over a mountain of documents and testimony from politicians and officials involved in the catastrophic scheme, and the final report into the matter by its chairman Sir Patrick Coghlin is awaited.

A report from Irish state broadcaster RTE on Thursday quoted Mr Coveney as saying: “My understanding is that the RHI inquiry was fairly robust and it is going to report next month.”

He made the remarks at a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Belfast Agreement.

In response, Steve Aiken, UUP MLA for South Antrim said: “I am amazed the tanaiste seems to know something the rest of us don’t on the publication of the RHI report from the inquiry panel.”

A spokesman for the inquiry said: “No date has been set for the publication of the report. The chairman is still working on it, and it will not be published next month.”

It is unclear where the tanaiste received his information from.

As well as commenting on the timing of the report, the tanaiste had said “the consequence of this inquiry should be how a new executive works in order to make sure that whatever the RHI inquiry uncovers cannot happen again”.

Mr Aiken said there was “little point” in Mr Coveney “trying to set down a marker as to how parties should react” when it is published.