Work is now underway to pave the path for the public inquiry into the flawed Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.
The start of the official work of the inquiry is progressing, although a date for evidence to be heard before the appointed judge has yet to be confirmed.
The inquiry is being chaired by retired appeal court judge Sir Patrick Coghlin whose remit is to get to the bottom of the controversy, as Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir explained to the Stormont Assembly: “Sir Patrick will be unflinching in his pursuit of the truth and scrupulous in his analysis of the evidence. This inquiry will be impartial and objective. I will not interfere in its work. It will be tasked to get to the truth of this issue.
“I am aware that the RHI issue goes beyond financial matters to questions of governance and probity. By getting to the truth of the RHI scandal, this enquiry report will, I believe, address those wider issues, and, therefore, put the public first.”
First Minister Arlene Foster has welcomed the move, saying that she had wanted such an inquiry for some time. “I have absolutely nothing to hide and so I look forward to the inquiry reporting. It would have been better if the inquiry had completed before any election, however we are where we are.”
The RHI scandal, which could cost the tax payer up to £490m, led to the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive, with an assembly election called for March 2nd.
Martin McGuinness who resigned as Deputy First Minister later announced that he is leaving frontline politics because of ill health. He has since been replaced by Michelle O’Neill as Sinn Fein leader north of the border.
The 40-year-old County Tyrone woman is the current health minister having previously been agriculture minister.