Public react to latest RHI revelations: ‘This country deserves better than squabbling children’

Bell's 'sincere' interview has put pressure on his party leader Arlene Foster according to the Northern Ireland public
Bell's 'sincere' interview has put pressure on his party leader Arlene Foster according to the Northern Ireland public

Jonathan Bell was described by several people as “sincere” as the Northern Ireland public reacted to Thursday night’s interview with Stephen Nolan.

Despite many believing that First Minister Arlene Foster has been caught out by the scandal, most think she will remain as executive leader.

The News Letter gauged the public opinion in Belfast on Friday after fresh revelations about the RHI scandal were revealed by DUP MLA Jonathan Bell in a dramatic interview with BBC’s Stephen Nolan

Evelyn Martin from Bangor said: “Jonathan Bell seemed genuine, very sincere. There were tears in his eyes at the end of the interview. I believe what he’s saying.”

“I think Arlene is a tough woman. Even if it comes out she knows more than she’s letting on I don’t think she’ll stand down.”

Unionist voter Billy Bateman from Belfast said: “Jonathan Bell came over to me as a very sincere Christian man. He is prepared to take the blame.

“Arlene came across as a bit cheeky in her response.

“She should resign, she should have known everything that had gone on.

“The pressure is all on her now.”

Lurgan man David Harvey said he was not surprised by the latest DUP scandal.

He said: “They’ve been stabbing each other in the back for years, have been employing bumbling incompetent fools as ministers for years and to be honest this country deserves better leadership, not squabbling school children.

“I personally believe Bell more than Foster, but the truth is likely to lie somewhere in between. Regardless of who is telling the truth, the DUP are showing yet again that they care about themselves more than the people of this country.

“I am also shocked at how quiet Sinn Fein, their political opponents / enemies, have been on the matter. It’s almost as if it’s in their interests to see the forced coalition, in all its incompetent glory, remain intact.”

Julie Monroe from Lisburn said: “Arlene is a strong leader and I don’t want to see her go, but it’s been very disappointing to think she hasn’t been telling the truth.

“As a Christian she should always tell the truth.”

“Why would Jonathan Bell come out unless he was telling the truth?” asked one Church of Ireland member.

“Of the two of them I think I would have had more trust in Arlene because of her church rather than her political party. Since seeing the programme I’m worried Arlene could be lying. Jonathan seemed to me to be very sincere.”

“It will all come down to evidence,” said one DUP voter.

“One of them is lying and it will come out on Monday (when the Public Accounts Committee meet).

“Until then I won’t be swayed by what either of them has said. Jonathan Bell’s interview was very theatrical, those quotes from Paisley he used, the praying, the tears, but it could have been genuine.

“Arlene Foster’s comments about the arguments they had behind closed doors weren’t appropriate.”

A couple who have been living in England for more than 20 years and only moved back to Northern Ireland in recent years, said the latest scandal was another embarrassing episode for the Province.

“Northern Ireland politics rarely makes the news in England, but when it does it’s generally a source of huge embarrassment,” they said.