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Sinn Féin wants electorate to ignore everything it says and does up North

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Sinn Féin wants Ms Foster to step aside while an inquiry establishes who is responsible for the whole disaster.

Sinn Féin wants Ms Foster to step aside while an inquiry establishes who is responsible for the whole disaster.

Sinn Féin wants Ms Foster to step aside while an inquiry establishes who is responsible for the whole disaster.

The so-called 'cash for ash' scandal which currently has the Stormont Assembly on the verge of collapse is murky to say the least.

Mandarins in the North somehow managed to develop a green energy scheme so generous it turned half the population into avid environmentalists.

The aim of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was to encourage people to heat their homes and businesses using woodchip pellets rather than electricity or gas.

However, the state subsidy was far more than the cost of the pellets and there was no cap on the size of the grant.

The scheme was so flawed that one wily farmer north of the Border was allegedly going to make around £1m (€1.17m) from heating an empty shed, according to a whistleblower.

The fiasco has the potential to cost our taxpaying neighbours in the North around £490m (€577m).

First Minister Arlene Foster was the minister in charge of the department that devised the scheme in 2012 and, naturally, she is under pressure over her handling of the affair.

Sinn Féin wants Ms Foster to step aside while an inquiry establishes who is responsible for the whole disaster.

Not an unfair request given the gravity and cost of the scandal, but the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader is refusing to budge.

The entire affair is a mess and it's causing a worrying divide in the power-sharing executive.

But as murky and messy as it all is, at least no one died.

This, however, cannot be said of the Garda investigation into the cold-blooded murder of Portlaoise prison officer Brian Stack.

As revealed in yesterday's Irish Independent, gardaí are set to re-interview a number of people as part of a renewed effort to investigate the daylight slaying of Mr Stack in 1983.

Among those to be questioned is Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

Mr Adams, who holds vital clues which could solve the three-decade-old murder, has no intention of stepping aside while gardaí carry out their investigation.

Certainly, no one in his party has suggested that he should step out of the limelight while gardaí once again try to establish who killed Mr Stack.

There will be no angry scenes at a Sinn Féin parliamentary party meeting as TDs and senators demand that Mr Adams hands over the name of the IRA chief who he arranged to meet with Mr Stack's sons Austin and Oliver in 2013.

No one in Sinn Féin would storm out of parliament - as they did when Ms Foster refused to step down - because Mr Adams won't tell gardaí the name of the shadowy IRA man who told the Stack brothers that Provo terrorists were responsible for their father's murder.

Similarly, Deputy First Minister and former IRA chief Martin McGuinness did not step down when PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said the supposedly disbanded Provisional IRA were behind the murder of Kevin McGuigan in Belfast less than two years ago.

Instead, all we got was denials, obfuscation and muddying of the waters. We certainly did not see anyone step aside while a police investigation was under way.

We should be used to the double standards at this stage and the hypocrisy is not limited to calls for politicians to step aside.

Over the Christmas break, two people who were availing of homeless services died in Belfast. Undoubtedly, two shocking tragedies, especially for their families and friends during the holiday break.

When Jonathan Corrie died outside Leinster House in November 2015, there was widespread public outrage.

Sinn Féin was at the fore of the condemnation of the Government for allowing a vulnerable man to die on a freezing cold night on the steps of our national parliament.

Since then, Sinn Féin has released at least 14 press statements in which Mr Corrie's death is mentioned.

Asked last weekend if they planned on raising similar concerns about the individuals who died in Belfast over Christmas, Sinn Féin took no responsibility for the deaths and did not offer any real solutions to prevent further tragedies.

Instead, the following quotes were attributed to Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey: "While the scale of the problem in Belfast has been dwarfed by the scale of the problem in Dublin and other cities as a result of the Irish Government's policies which have led to families and children living on the streets, in cars, and in other unsuitable accommodation, any death on our streets is unacceptable."

As for how he intends on fixing the problem, Mr Maskey had this to offer: "There is an urgent need for local councils, the housing executive and housing associations, and others to work collectively to tackle this problem."

If, God forbid, two homeless people died in Dublin over Christmas, Mr Adams would have called an emergency press conference on the plinth outside Leinster House to condemn the Government's inaction on the housing crisis.

But when two people die in the city where he was born and raised, he has nothing to say.

Sinn Féin doesn't want a Border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

But it would certainly prefer that we ignore what it says and does in the North.

Irish Independent