Thursday 18 January 2018

New Sinn Féin leader linked to 'cash for ash'

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Sean O'Driscoll and Claire O'Boyle

Michelle O'Neill is facing calls to step aside as Sinn Féin's leader in the North over new 'cash for ash' revelations.

Documents have revealed the department of agriculture led by Mrs O'Neill ran 58 workshops to promote the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

This week the Mid-Ulster MLA claimed she had no responsibility for the controversial RHI scheme, and directed blame solely at the DUP.

But seminars organised by Mrs O'Neill's department stressed the financial benefits of the programme.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said he was stunned by the revelations, and demanded Mrs O'Neill step aside from her role. Last night, Mrs O'Neill denied any wrongdoing.

"When I was agriculture minister, my department was involved in promotional events around the Renewable Heat Incentive, which was run by the then department of enterprise, trade and investment," she said.

Read More: Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill urges Dublin to 'act in our interests' over Brexit

"My department promoted a wide range of grant schemes for farmers, most run by the EU, some by the department of the environment and some run by Arlene Foster's department, as well as our own schemes.

"I did not attend any of these events...When Sinn Féin became aware of the concerns around the scheme, we took decisive action to end it in the interests of the public purse, despite the objections of the SDLP and UUP."

Irish Independent

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