Tuesday 20 August 2019

Heat on Foster over disastrous 'green scheme'

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Noel McAdam

First Minister Arlene Foster is facing fresh calls to resign following new revelations over a bungled heating scheme set to cost Northern Ireland upwards of €476m.

Stormont's opposition parties escalated their criticism of the DUP leader after it emerged her special adviser, Andrew Crawford, has no record of being told of concerns over the botched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) - a 'green scheme' that was disastrous for the environment.

As calls mounted for Mrs Foster to appear before the Public Accounts Committee as soon as possible, the Ulster Unionist Party further argued Mr Crawford should also be considering his position.

Mr Crawford's brother, who is a farmer, was a successful applicant to the RHI as a director of the firm DJC Poultry based in Co Tyrone.

UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt's demand came after the DUP stressed Mr Crawford had never met a whistleblower who raised her worries over the scheme directly with Mrs Foster when she was Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Industry (DETI).

A party statement said: "Dr Andrew Crawford was Special Advisor in DETI during the period 2011 to May 2015. Dr Crawford did not meet the whistleblower nor has he any record of these issues having been raised with him at that time."

There is no suggestion Mr Crawford's brother did anything wrong in applying to the scheme.

However, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "Instead of a story about staggering incompetence, the perception is now growing that there may also have been something more sinister involved. The First Minister must not be allowed to deal with this scandal simply on her own terms and she must not be allowed to give answers only to the questions she deems relevant."

Irish Independent

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